On Wednesday night, March 16 at 5pm, the Napa Valley Film Festival presented the 2015 Jury award winning film Romeo is Bleeding to an audience of roughly 200 Napa Valley community members, including teachers, high school students, and parents.
The film, screened at the Napa Valley Unified School District auditorium, brings awareness to the escalating instance of gang violence in and around the neighborhoods of North and Central Richmond, California. Using slam poetry to inspire those around him, local hero Donté Clark joins forces the members of RYSE, a youth services group in Richmond, to mount an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, aptly titled Té’s Harmony (for the two character leads), with the hope of starting a real dialogue about the burgeoning problem facing their city.
In attendance for the evening, were Producer Michael Klein, film subject and poet laureate Donté Clark, and Marji Kilpatrick, film subject and narrator of Té’s Harmony.
What would help most is to really reflect on the themes and the subjects shown in the film, and ask yourself what you are going to do with that information. That’s the most impactful thing you can do… Wherever you go, you need to BE love. You need to think it, you need to feel it, and you need to act on it.
Following the screening, Michael, Donté, and Marji took audience questions for a brief Q&A moderated by NVFF Co-Founder/Artistic Directorr Marc Lhormer. High school teachers, counselors, and concerned parents all took turns stepping up to the microphone. These audience members not only thanked Donté for his brave work, but also asked what can be done in our own community where a growing population of homeless and disadvantaged families are turning to gang support for survival –a fact often ignored and overlooked due to the Napa Valley’s reputation as a tranquil, destination community. To these concerns Donté responded, “What would help most is to really reflect on the themes and the subjects shown in the film, and ask yourself what you are going to do with that information. That’s the most impactful thing you can do… Wherever you go, you need to BE love. You need to think it, you need to feel it, and you need to act on it. I ask that you reflect on this film. Set goals for yourself, and think about what you are going to do with that information.”
Michael Klein, who received a BA in Cinema-Television Production from the University of Southern California, provided thought provoking suggestions for teachers who expressed interest in “teaching” more about the problems facing Bay Area youth, even in Napa Valley. Inspired by the Q&A session, one local teacher who took to the microphone charged his fellow educators to “…build relationships any way you can, even in the littlest ways… with cookies, or rides home, anything,” a practice that Donté and Marji agreed made an invaluable impact on their personal and academic lives.
Following the Q&A Donté and Marji performed a much-anticipated special slam poetry performance (see video above), which not only brought tears to the eyes of the majority of the audience, but also brought upon the second standing ovation of the evening.
Donté is currently working on a new play with his sister, called Fairytale. The play opens on May 14th and 15th in El Cerrito, CA.
THIS EVENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY NVFF EDUCATION PROGRAMS