New American Cinema | 2017 | 85 minutes
Stranger Says: The real-life story this film (adapted from a play) is based on might be two decades old, but it’s relevant enough to feel ripped from modern headlines: A young black woman goes out with friends, they get a flat tire, she stays in the locked car and falls asleep with a gun in her lap while waiting on a mechanic, and when her friends can’t wake her up, they call the cops for help, which ultimately ends in her death—in 12 shots. The film’s experimental production style, nonlinear storytelling, and direct-to-camera monologues can be dizzying and exhausting, but its way of using spoken word, rap, beatboxing, hiphop dance, and music to paint a vivid and intimate portrait of Myeisha beyond her last 24 hours—shedding light on her dreams, interests, opinions, memories, and overall personality—feels fresh and lively, revealing who she was and, more tragically, who she could have been.
SIFF Says:“This ain’t gonna be one of them feel-good shows.” It’s December 28, 1998 in Riverside, California, and 19-year-old Myeisha’s car has a flat tire. After her friend Kai and cousin Roni call for roadside assistance, they return to find the car locked and Myeisha passed out in the driver’s seat, a .38 in her lap. Minutes later, police arrive and open fire, killing Myeisha instantly. But that’s just the beginning of this experimental story, and in the moment of her death, Myeisha crosses over into a dreamscape and contemplates her life; what it was and what it could have been. Based on the internationally renowned play “Dreamscape” by Rickerby Hinds—itself a fictionalized retelling of the police shooting of Tyisha Miller—My Name is Myeisha uses hip-hop, spoken word poetry, and dance to dig into the life of a single African-American teenager “born and raised in the IE;” as the medical examiner beatboxes his way through describing each of the 12 bullets that entered her body, Myeisha launches into soliloquies about black hair culture, her high school sports career, and when she lost her virginity. Rhaechyl Walker (winner of the 2018 Slamdance Acting Award) and John “Faaz” Merchant reprise their roles from the theatrical two-hander, creating a fierce, ferocious, and unforgettable tale of a lost life.
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