Inspired by a true story, CROSSING THE RIVER is a short narrative film about a modern-day cross burning, told from the point of view of both the victim and perpetrators. Seeking to understand how such a thing could still happen in this day and age, the film explores themes of racial tolerance and forgiveness.
CROSSING THE RIVER is a narrative short film about a modern-day hate crime. White teenage brothers Grant and Shawn, estranged from their mother, find the connection they are seeking with a racist older man. Michaela, an innocent 13 year old from a mixed-race family, is new in town. After tensions in the boys’ lives escalate, a cross is burned on Michaela’s lawn. The film explores the points of view of both the victim and perpetrators, and seeks to reveal how someone can be influenced to do something morally unspeakable.
In 2010, I met my friend Martha’s grandsons Tyler and Landon in South Carolina, and immediately felt that they would be compelling onscreen. A short time later, I received an article from a friend of my family’s who runs a civil rights watch group. The article was about teenagers who were accused of burning a cross on a family’s lawn, and how the family was affected, especially their 13 year old daughter. I was very moved by the story, and especially by how it was apparent that the girl truly believed that people were good and wanted to continue to believe it despite her experience. When I later read that the two boys turned to the family in court and apologized, it gave me hope. The seed of an idea for a powerful short film quickly developed.
We shot CROSSING THE RIVER on location in Camden, South Carolina March 15-18, 2012 on the Arri Alexa. We had an incredible cast and crew working dedicatedly on the project, each bringing a high level of professionalism. The goal was to capture improvisational moments with the young actors, while at the same time maintaining a visual quality that fully captured the beauty and tension of the South Carolina landscape. I feel we did that and then some, and can’t wait to share the film with a larger audience. We are currently in post-production in NYC.