Saturday, September 17, 2011

Urbanworld FF: Restless City

The Urbanworld Film Festival is a showcase for filmmakers and actors of color, presented at the AMC 34th Street in New York City. For more information on the festival and to see the full 2011 schedule of films, visit the website.

Director Andrew Dosunmu
Restless City is a film from first-time director Andrew Dosunmu following the life of a young Senegalese immigrant to America, as he pursues his dream of being a singer in New York. It also covers the lives of the friends and acquaintances that weave in and out of his life.

I cannot express strongly enough how much I loved this film. The story is very character-driven, bouncing back and forth between characters, but mostly sticking with the young singer. Its great strength, however, is in the look. Dosunmu, in a Q-and-A after the screening, said that he shot with a RED digital camera and it's breathtakingly beautiful to look at. New York rarely looked better. The colors make the skin tones of the cast look rich and vibrant. 

More than that, though, Dosunmu, a photographer, understands composition, light and shadow like a seasoned pro. One could take a freeze frame of almost any shot in the film and analyze the composition, the framing, and the use of light. This might be the artiest film in exhibition here at the Urbanworld Film Festival. Dosunmu plays with speeds as well, and there are quite a few lovingly-rendered slow-motion shots of things like the singer riding his moped through the streets of lower Manhattan and Harlem.

Dosunmu (third from left) w/cast and crew after screening
The screenplay places little emphasis on dialogue; indeed, at Dosunmu's insistence (as he admitted at the Q-and-A), he strove for silence and pregnant pauses more often than not, in a fashion that makes City positively Kubrickian. I said the film looks arty, but not in a pretentious way. I never got the sense that he was doing anything to show off, but rather to present the beauty of the city and these African people.

Unfortunately, I don't see a trailer for City anywhere, not even on the website, but I'm gonna keep watch, and when I see one, I'll post it on the WSW Facebook page. I believe Dosunmu said that this would also be available on VOD at some point soon. I'll also post that on the Facebook page as soon as I find out. Bottom line: seek this movie out however you can, because it is a work of art.


Previously from the Urbanworld Film Festival:
Brooklyn Boheme
Love Arranged
All Things Fall Apart


  1. I've been looking forward to this for a while, and I'm (now sort of desperately) hoping that now that I've moved to Dallas, I'll actually be able to see this on the big screen instead of waiting for video.

  2. If you can see it on the big screen, do so, but see it however you can. It's worth it.


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