A young Black man is heading home to his dog after a night out. As he steps outside, he is confronted and killed by a white police officer over and over again in some sort of fatal time loop.
“Two Distant Strangers,” a 29-minute film written and co-directed by Cal State Long Beach alumnus Travon Free '07, is taken straight from recent headlines but motivated largely by what Free experienced while marching in a protest over the killing of George Floyd.
The film not only resonated with movie watchers but with the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who named it Best Live Short Action Film at Sunday’s 93rd Academy Award ceremony.
This frameset document contains:
“For us to be here, holding these (Oscar statuettes) for a movie as potent and as serious as our film is, from the Academy, I think is unbelievable,” Free said during a virtual post-ceremony press room appearance with his co-director Martin Desmond Roe. “I think it’s amazing to think that we can be standing here today holding Oscars for a film about police brutality.”
The comedian and actor donned a black and gold Dolce & Gabbana suit - his jacket lined with the names of Black people who died at the hands of police including Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice and Philando Castile.
The film debuted on Netflix, days before Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop by a white Minnesota police officer. Free told MSNBC before the Academy Awards that he wants Americans to be aware of how often these situations happen, “of Black people being killed by police, and when the news cycle and world moves on to the next one, we as Black people are still living it. They are an ever-linking chain for us, there is no break in that chain for us. I want people to recognize that.”
Free graduated from CSULB with a degree in criminal justice before starting his career as a writer for “The Daily Show” in 2012. While working there, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.
He also has written for the HBO show “Any Given Wednesday” and for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
Photo courtesy of Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images.