Hip-hop, black Hollywood and skating rinks are usually the first things that are associated with urban culture in Atlanta. However, a city that has allowed thousands of upwardly mobile blacks to maintain success continues to neglect the problems that lower class citizens face.
With their debut film Snow On Tha Bluff, Curtis Snow and Damon Russell present a disturbing side of Atlanta that’s often ignored. Filmed similar to The Blair Witch Project and grittier than “The Wire,” cameras follow Snow as he deals drugs, do stick-up jobs and search for ways to raise his infant son.
While several graphic scenes could allude to the glorification of drug dealing and violence, Snow and Russell insist that the narrative film serves as a testimonial. The two recently sat down with rolling out magazine to discuss their project. –amir shaw
For those who have never been to that section in Atlanta, what is The Bluff?
Snow: The Bluff is a neighborhood where everyone is one-track-minded. It’s right around the corner from downtown Atlanta, Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park. The people there are surviving and barely making it. The B.L.U.F.F stands for you Better Leave, U [you] F*****’ Fool. If you’re coming to get something, just get it and go.
When you decided to create this film, what was the goal of the story?
Snow: We can walk outside and see everything that rappers are telling you. We just tried to bring you there in the middle of it and paint a picture. It’s not too many people who can show you what they do. It’s kind of like the federal government doing stuff that most of the world doesn’t know about. Same goes for us. It’s a lot going on in our neighborhoods and cities that [people] know nothing about. We’re trying to expose them to real poverty. It’s not just in Africa. It’s going on right next door.
Russell: Everyone should know about what’s going on in their city, whether it’s related to you or not. The first part is just seeing it and knowing that it’s there. You see it on the 10 o’clock news, but you don’t really feel it.
How have people reacted to your film?
Russell: Everyone reacted differently. The first time we showed it in Atlanta, it got really out of hand and a scuffle nearly occurred because some people couldn’t handle it. But we’ve gotten positive reactions as well. People who are not connected to the community are fascinated by it. The people who live in that world think that it’s authentic.
What does this film say about the city of Atlanta?
If they lived in Atlanta for a long time, they know how the city is ran. I just wanted them to know the true story of Atlanta — behind the scenes. Slum neighborhoods still exist. This is more than a greeting card fairy tale.
“Snow On Tha Bluff” will be shown on May 7 at the Landmark Midtown Theater during the Atlanta Film Fest.