On the anniversary of her birthday, Dr. Donda West continues to affect the world in a positive way through the organization that was named for her. Donda’s House Inc., Creative Cypher and Blue 1647 recently screened a short film, The Cycle, directed by Michael Marantz, produced by Already Alive and executive produced by Sway of “Sway in The Morning” and “Wake Up Show.”
The Cycle is a short narrative film that examines the relationship between police officers and civilians from a highly personal perspective. It addresses this matter head-on with no apologies and raw emotion.
A discussion moderated by Che “Rhymefest” Smith consisted of Michael Marantz the director and producer of The Cycle and CEO of Already Alive; Justin Rambert, also a producer of The Cycle; and Kelsey Riley, an activist, and cultural critic who is very involved in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The panel also consisted of a 25-year veteran of the Chicago police force, Vanessa Westley.
Officer Westley spoke plainly about bridging the divide between the community and the officers to make relationships better. Rhymefest challenged her way of thinking, pointing to John Burge a police officer who tortured confessions from Black men for crimes they did not commit and the existence of CIA style black sites on Chicago’s West Side. Rhymefest asked how for her suggestions on bridging the gap if these types of things exist.
When asked about the seriousness of the youth and how they are dealing with this climate. Justin Rambert suggested that a large percentage of those youth may be out there for the wrong reasons, to take selfies and have fun. Kelsey took offense to that statement and spoke clearly to how many of the youth are just that, “youth” and can champion the cause of Black liberation and still have fun. Overall, the discussion touched on the heart of the matter — the relationships that start at home.
Marantz discussed what his intentions were when directing the movie.
“We are talking about the cycle, we are talking about things that happen in the past that keep on happening and why they keep on happening, and for me a huge part of that is this emotion and this feeling of fear and what fear compels people to do. What happens if we remove ourselves from that fear just a little bit and have a little bit more compassion and love even when it’s the hardest thing to do,” he said.
We also had a moment to chat it up with the executive producer Sway to get his thoughts on the film.
What kind of dialogue are you trying to spark with this film, what do you feel it inspires?
Sway: Conversation and understanding is the ultimate goal. There is such a divide between law enforcement and people in the community, especially black folks. We feel like we are being hunted. I felt that way 20 years ago, now 20 years later we are still fighting the same issues. By having a Chicago Police Officer Like Vanessa and an Activist like Kelsey on this panel you are hearing every perspective and we
The Cycle is a complex film that engages the viewer from many different perspectives. We asked the director to describe the film in one word. After a few seconds he said “Challenging.”
Let’s hope the dialogue this film will spark will help to open minds and change lives.