Milwaukee Film Festival 2016: The Land
By Devvon Eubanks
Trying to escape the harsh underground of Cleveland is no easy task, and for four teenage boys in “The Land,” that opportunity comes at great risk. This debut film from writer and director Steven Caple Jr. follows Cisco (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and his group of friends as they seek a better life for themselves after mostly failing their classes. The pressing atmosphere of gangs, violence, brutality, and drugs on the streets makes the city feel like a prison, and these young men will do anything to get out and achieve their dream of becoming pro skateboarders…even if they have to steal cars and commit crimes to do so. One day, however, the youths get mixed up in a huge drug deal and quickly become a target for a merciless crime queen-pin known as “Momma” (Linda Emond). Thus, the kids have to find a way to slip from her clutches and cling to the dreams they share together. The film is a tale about the value and beauty of friendship and survival in a dark, brooding world of crime and death. Reminiscent of Miramax’s 2002 crime drama “City of God,” Caple does an awesome job of showing the ruggedness of underprivileged ghettos across the country and what people living there have to go through. The movie focuses a critical lens on the black community through the city of Cleveland as well as Cisco and his network, showing the tenaciousness of the average citizen trying to make it in this county to better themselves and their families. Combined with an amazing soundtrack featuring Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Nas, and more, there are high emotions that run throughout the film, showing the viewer a bitter land divided by strife, but united by love. With excellent cinematography and characters that are easy to connect to, “The Land” is a very solid showing from beginning to end. Overall, for the first feature film of his career, Steven Caple Jr. gives a unique, poignant account of the domestic struggles of America and what is needed to survive the land in which we live.