This Filmmaker Won't Let Them Take Ownership Of His Black Story

video shoot
Zain Murdock
May 21, 2021

Travon Free’s “Two Distant Strangers” recently won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. The movie plays off the theme of “Groundhog Day,” where a Black man wakes up in a time-loop every single day, unable to escape being murdered by police. 

But, an Oscar isn’t all the director got.

Non-Black filmmaker Cynthia Kao posted a video saying she made a similar film, “Groundhog Day For A Black Man,” back in 2016. This turned into a plagiarism battle between media platforms NowThisNews and Netflix – both run by wealthy white men. But, Free’s had enough.

Since his film was based on a near-deadly police encounter he had himself, Free believes the accusations are “absurd.” He says, the idea of time-looping Black violence has been used so often, it’s a film trope!

This is bigger than plagiarism accusations. We should be horrified that police murders are so entrenched that MULTIPLE filmmakers have expressed that it feels inescapable! This is the issue at hand, not who should rightfully profit off of Black death.

While the world entertains themselves with our trauma on screen, these corporations make millions. Using creativity to overcome or deal with oppression is a part of Black culture. So, we have to be critical about who we let tell our stories!

We have a quick favor to ask:

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With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

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