Kevin Cooper’s The Painter is extraordinary. Many fillmmakers have thrown their hat into the ring in response to youth violence. The difference with Cooper’s film is that its raw edge is also painstakenly beautiful, frame by frame. And it’s no accident that it ended up that way. In an interview with iloveshort films, Kevin delves into some of the background of creating this 14 minute film.
After an amazing festival run, it’s now available to stream on vimeo. It’s worth every second. And as an extra bonus you can view the behind the scenes videos with the two sponsoring non profit youth organizations involved in the production. These young teens partcipated in front of and behind the scenes to help bring this anti violence message to life. Rounding out the cast is Ron Caldwell, who portrays the main character – the painter. He was most recently featured in the film Lila and Eve (Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez) and his performance in Cooper’s film is both touching and very realistic.
If you have a chance to view it more than once, check out the amazing detail of the painter’s tools, his environment – the sights and sounds around him. And topping off this stellar production is the music, generoulsy provided by Armand Amar, and the composition, Light, courtesy of Hans Zimmer.
If you live in and around Chicago, you can’t help but feel the devestation of the shootings that occur almost daily. The pain is far greater for those who are immersed in it, and Cooper manages to show a deeply rooted respect for them, and all the while keeping a watchful and objective eye on the narrative.
I guarantee that this film will haunt you. It is simple, elegant and heartfelt. It is both an homage and a warning. Recently, it was announced that Spike Lee will be tackling the issue of violence in Chicago. My hope is that he takes a moment to consider Cooper’s film. Although most likely to be very different in narrative form and theme, I think The Painter serves as an incredibly poetic and thoughtful take on growing up in a dangerous world. It is reminiscent of a much quieter version of Lee’s Do The Right Thing – in terms of its artistic lean and call for a public response. The Painter doesn’t offer a solution, instead it propels us to want to find one on our own.
For the love of art, Cooper and the painter himself journey into a world of violence, inviting us to ask why someone has to live there at all, and demands that we question the why not as well – why haven’t we stopped it already? Maybe too complext to dissect here, but the questions are no less worthy of an answer. Even if we can’t solve it, maybe the film is suggesting that we own up to that conclusion and make ourselves, at the very least, willing bystanders.
To watch the film and give it a like, go here: