Local filmmaker explores emotional toll of youth violence in North Mpls.

Local filmmaker explores emotional toll of youth violence in North Mpls.
Still taken from the short film, “ Angels Walk ” by Brain Few Jr.

Still taken from the short film, “Angels Walk” by Brain Few Jr.

I just want to say how incredibly proud I am of you. You’re bright, you’re kind, you’re fair, you’re gentile, you’re generous. Your parents did a great job raising you and now you’re setting a great example for young adults. Color me impressed :)
— Emily Westphal, 9/10th Grade English Teacher

Article by Khymyle Mims | Published by the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder

To define Brian Few Jr., as simply creative would be an injustice. Few, 27, is a lifelong resident of North Minneapolis and director of Angels Walk, a short film about the emotional effects of gun violence in North Minneapolis.

Following the death of Tabyis Paskins in August of 2016, Minneapolis’ then-18th homicide of the year, Few was moved to take action and began to develop Angels Walk.

“The most important thing that I really wanted the film to achieve is just to help those families that are going through this — just to, hopefully, give them some hope, you know. It’s going to be okay. They may not be here physically no more, but they’re still here,” said Few. “Nobody wants to see [anyone] dead.”

Few attended a vigil for Paskins the day after he died. “To stand next to a 16 year old [at the vigil], I just want to tell them it’s okay, man. We could be standing here in the same spot tomorrow, because it was you that got killed,” he said about the young men who retaliate out of anger.

“I wanted to say something [while at Paskins’ vigil], but I didn’t know what to say,” he recalled. At a loss for words, Few did what he does best: create. To reach the teenage population, Few created a visual and purposefully made it to be under five minutes in order keep viewers engaged and not lose their attention span.

Few’s purpose comes from his passion for his community and youth. As a graduate of St. Cloud State University, the young filmmaker seeks to combine his formal education in advertising and his self-taught production skills to create content that is both meaningful and entertaining.

Few said that he’s always had a hard-working mentality; however, his drive comes from his father and the absence of his sister. “I figure maybe the more I put myself out there, she might see it and come back,” said Few of his sister, who he lost contact with over six years ago when she moved away.

Few sat down to speak with the MSR just a day before a young woman was fatally shot and killed in a strip mall parking lot off of West Broadway in North Minneapolis. Later he said incidents such as that one plague his community and the young people in it. “The safest time [in my neighborhood] is in the winter,” he said with a serious and chilling smirk. “That’s gone now.”

Explaining title of his debut film, Few said, “What gave me the title and idea for Angels Walk was that I got home on a winter night, like three o’clock in the morning. It’s beautiful in North Minneapolis at night in the winter time. It’s peaceful and quiet — nobody’s outside,” he said. While sitting in his car a poem emerged that he needed to write down in that space, at that moment. “I’m sitting in my car and I start hearing noises; I start hearing footsteps.”

When he looked around he saw nothing so he continued to write. Shortly after, he heard a car pull up. “This noise was so loud that I literally had to look behind me [but] there was nothing.” Now very alert as he continued to write, Few says he began to hear noises on his car, pulling at handles but there was no one physically there.

As he focused in on the noises, he recalled the Sunday he left church and saw a dead body at the end of his block, and the ringing of gunshots that frequently threaten the community. He thought of the countless deaths week after week.

“Most of these deaths are kids, and most of these kids are probably just being kids with no guidance,” he noted. “So they probably walk the streets pulling car handles… I believe that maybe it was them doing that.”

Thus, in the film, the kids and other victims are angels, and their spirits live on and continue to walk the streets wherever they passed away.

Angels Walk received a “Best of Festival” screening at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) in April, and Few is anxious for a public release in July or August. He’d like the public screening to be a night of healing, accompanied by many more forms of art. For more film information, visit DEDIC823D.com.

Few has already begun work on his next film, “Suspect?. Visit Brian Few Jr. on facebook to keep up with his work. 

Khymyle Mims welcomes reader responses to khymylewrites@gmail.com.

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