#DBFF22 Screening + Q&A: Caged Birds
INVITATIONAL SELECTION- NARRATIVE FEATURE
On Friday, January 28th we invite you to watch Caged Birds with us at 8:00 pm Central and at 9:30pm Central join us for a recorded conversation with the Director Frederick Leach. Can’t watch the film at 8:00pm you can still tune in for the Q & A and then watch the film at your leisure. It will be available until Sunday, January 30th at 8:00pm Central.
Host: Daisy Best- DBFF Film Programming Team
Filmmaker: Director Frederick Leach
Community Partner: Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF)
Fredrick Leach is a filmmaker who pulls from his unique experiences growing up bi-racial in Texas to craft narratives about underdogs who must come to terms with the nuances of their identity. He moved to LA in 2015 after spending three years as an 8th grade history teacher through Teach For America. He got his start in the industry working for the trailblazing web-series company, “Black&SexyTV” where he wrote, directed and edited for the platform’s most popular shows including “Hello, Cupid,” and “Sexless.” In 2019, Fred wrote, directed and co-produced his first feature “Caged Birds’ ‘ which debuted at the Pan African Film Festival in February 2021 and won the jury prize for Best First Feature. The film will make its commercial debut on the upstart streaming service, UrbanflixTV, in November 20e21. Fred is currently shopping two pilots and his next feature, “The Hard & Short of It,” is a quarter finalist in the Nicholls Fellowship.
I wanted to make something truly diverse.
“Diversity” is obviously a huge buzz word around Hollywood these days. Since the #OscarsSoWhite movement, there has been an increased push to get more stories from people of color. But what I found was that “diverse” just meant “more,” as in “more” of the same types of stories. So instead of truly unique and diverse films and television, we got more of the same overused tropes and stereotypes.
With “Caged Birds” we looked to tell a story that depicted a different side of the black experience.
The plot of “Caged Birds” could be considered a suburban retelling of the classic 90s film “Juice,” in which 4 New York teenagers deal with the consequences after a convenience story robbery leaves a man dead. Our film centers around 3 boys who play a prank on a white bully with similar, deadly results. Unlike in “Juice,” our boys have some cache in the community, and therefore, their relationships to the police and criminal justice system are not the same. And yet, at the end of the day, they are still black, and the ugly prejudices that America harbors against people of color still come to play.
Based around my experiences growing up in the suburbs of Houston, “Caged Birds” is a look at the suburban Black experience and the privilege and pitfalls that come with it. Our characters grow up with access to money, and good education, with parents who have connections — resources historically kept from black families — so how does that translate to their personal experiences as black men?
Ultimately, our film is an unflinching look at the forces, both internal and external, that hold our group of suburban boys back. Our society has certain expectations of Black people, regardless of their social status, and these expectations can have catastrophic effects on our people. While our film does not let the kids off the hook for the crime they commit, it does question why they do it.
We hope you enjoy the film and it can spark conversations that can lead to change both in the industry and in our country.