Down for Life is a 2010 feature film directed by Alan Jacobs. The film follows Rascal, a Latina high school student enmeshed in Los Angeles gang life. The central conflict in the story concerns Rascal's future. As a gifted writer, Rascal has opportunities to leave Los Angeles but her neighborhood friends are pressuring her to stay. In the trailer, we see clips of Rascal in fights, being pursued by police, being chastised by her teachers not to squander her opportunities, and being threatened by fellow gang members not to leave. The connection to earlier films about young people of color struggling through poverty are made clear by titles that read, "A cross between Precious...and Boyz in the Hood." Rascal and her friends use the phrase "down for life" in multiple different contexts throughout the trailer: to affirm their friendships, the commitment to the gang, their lives in the neighborhood, and an inflexible set of values.
This trailer was created forElektra,an action film starring Jennifer Garner as the star, based on the Marvel comic book. While most of the comic book heroes that are the centerpieces of major films are male – Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and more – only a few female characters have ever been the lead role in comic books and associated movies.
Every Single Word is a series of videos and blog run by writer and performer Dylan Marron. Every Single Word edits down popular films to only feature the words spoken by people of color. The series illustrates the lack of racial and ethnic minority representation in mainstream film by showing the mere minutes or even seconds characters of color are given in lengthy blockbusters and movie franchises. For example, in the entire Harry Potter series of 8 full-length films, 6 minutes of dialogue is given to characters of color, or 0.47% of screen time. The example linked above is from the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire. Marron features blockbuster hits, top-grossing films, and critically acclaimed masterpieces. Many videos in the series end after the title of the movie is displayed because there is no speaking time at all for characters of color.
This clip comes from the 1993 film Falling Down, starring Michael Douglass as William Foster, an unemployed engineer who “snaps” and goes on a rampage across Los Angeles. In this scene, the Korean store owner, Mr. Lee, falls victim to the angry aggression of Foster. Lee is insulted for his accent, among other things, and cowers in fear as Foster destroys his merchandise.
Based on a true story, this trailer of director Ryan Coogler’s debut feature film Fruitvale Station (2013) characterizes and showcases the experiences of protagonist Oscar Grant, a young African American man living in a working class area of Oakland, CA. The quick snippets of the trailer paint Oscar in a sympathetic manner: he is a devoted father, boyfriend, and son who is struggling to find work to keep himself off the streets. However, a scuffle on the subway ensues when a former prison inmate of Oscar’s recognizes him. The violence quickly escalates as police officers throw Oscar onto the platform at Fruitvale Station. Although the trailer does not reveal what happens to Oscar, the 2008 incident and subsequent peaceful and violent protests point to another instance of an unarmed black man’s death by police shooting.