People are more connected than ever, and yet we’ve never been more divided. Perhaps if we all could just have the chance to share a meal and talk with one another, the world would be a better place. It’s an idea proposed in Story Ave, the feature debut by Aristotle Torres that recently won the SXSW special Jury award for cinematography.
Starring Luis Guzmán and Asante Blackk, the story centers on a gifted South Bronx kid who loses his way following his brother’s death. When he drifts into the dangerous world of graffiti gangs and makes a failed attempt to rob an MTA conductor, rather than turn the kid over, the man invites him to a conversation over a meal, leading to an unexpected friendship.
Guzmán has probably been in one of your favorite movies he gets around so much. But he’s probably best known for his role in Boogie Nights. Blackk’s breakout role was in Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us. He recently starred in the quirky sci-fi film Landscape with Invisible Hand. Also in the cast are Alex Hibbert, Melvin Gregg, Coral Peña, Cassandra Freeman, and Hassan Johnson. Jamie Foxx is aboard as a producer, as well.
Torres is another filmmaker who got his start in the world of music videos. He has worked closely with longtime friend J. Cole, and started the music collective By Any Means, which has directed videos for Justin Bieber, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, and more. Story Ave is actually based on a 2018 short created by Torres at the Sundance Lab.
Here’s the synopsis: South Bronx teen Kadir (Asante Blackk) is a gifted visual artist who loses his way following the death of his younger brother. Overcome with grief and struggling with the pressures of school and family, he escapes into the thrilling yet dangerous world of graffiti gangs. To prove himself and join his neighborhood’s ruling gang, Kadir tries to rob no-nonsense MTA conductor Luis (Luis Guzmán) but is caught off guard when Luis agrees to give Kadir cash if he’ll sit down to have a meal with him. Following their conversation and the delicate, transformative friendship that grows out of it, Kadir sees for the first time how his artistic talent could lead to a better life.
Story Ave opens in theaters on September 29th.