February 22, 2021
Using home video filmed over 20 years, 17 Blocks captures one black American family enduring the joy, loss, and the scourge of gun violence in the shadow of the US Capitol
Look what Ive lost: a powerful decade-spanning film about one American family
In 1999, Davy Rothbart was 23 years old and staying on a friend’s couch in south-east DC a few blocks from a basketball court, where he befriended 15-year-old Akil “Smurf” Sanford and his precocious nine-year-old brother, Emmanuel. An aspiring film-maker, Rothbart had a small handheld camcorder, which the younger brother immediately took a shine to; the two would mess around with the amateur device, taking in their everyday sights. “We learned how to use it together,” Rothbart told the Guardian – strolling about the neighborhood, interviewing people on the street, monkeying with the night vision setting, letting their curiosity guide the lens.
Related: 'If it wasn’t for us, essential workers couldn’t go to work': a film on 24/7 daycare
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