May 9, 2021- Travon Free, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning television writer, actor and comedian, turned a terrifying encounter with the police into an Oscar-winning film that highlights the ongoing tragedy of police violence against Black people.
Free, who wrote the film, Two Distant Strangers, and co-directed it with Martin Desmond Roe, said police raided his home with guns drawn early in the morning and had him kneel on his living room floor in his underwear with his hands clasped behind his head. As it turned out, the police had the wrong house. Free decided to turn his decade-old experience into a film following the murder of George Floyd.
Last month, Two Distant Strangers won the Oscar for best live action short film, and it has been acquired by Netflix. However, the Oscar win generated controversy. Director Cynthia Kao has alleged that Free’s film is very similar to one she made in 2016. There also have been other projects cited as being similar to Free’s—from the Replay episode of the rebooted The Twilight Zone to the film, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson.
I urge the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to check out all of these projects. The nation remains in a tumultuous cycle of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. We all know the power of the arts to break through walls and move hearts when other forms of communication fail. Consequently, I think these times require as many artists as possible to use their talents and platforms to continue to elevate this critical issue, as well as other social justice matters. All of their work deserves our support.
As always, I would like to know what you think. Please share your comments below.