There is a certain irony in this day-in-the-life story of two Bedford–Stuyvesant teens, Maalik (Curtiss Cook Jr.) and Naz (Kerwin Johnson Jr.), that filmmaker Dockendorf was able to effectively convey during the film’s 2015 festival run (South by Southwest, Outfest, Frameline, etc.) without having to beat his audiences over the head with it.
You see, Naz and Maalik are gay, black and Muslim. In certain places their Islamic brothers wouldn’t think twice about hauling them to the roof of the nearest tall building and tossing them off. Death! Not for being either black or Muslim, but for being gay.
The two work the busy streets of “Bed-Stuy” with two-bit hustles that earn them some pocket money. They are well-spoken, clean-cut, they even make time to attend prayers at a storefront Mosque, but most importantly they enjoy each others company, intimately. They have not come out to their families, which is by far their biggest concern. There is, in short, nothing sinister about them.
Maalik and Naz, working the street, finding time for a tryst … and running afoul of the FBI all in one afternoon! Because of who they are and “what” they are, these two teens are probably the least likely in the neighborhood to be terrorists, but when they hit the radar of a gun-running surveillance sting run being by an FBI agent named Sarah Mickell (Annie Grier) the two find their lives — and their secret — on the verge of being destroyed.
Dockendorf makes his directorial long-form debut here with an indie film production that belies its limited production budget. The cinematography of Jake Magee (Up the River) is a major plus and the acting talents of both Cook and Johnson easily invests you in their characters.