Here at CLUTCH there has been no shortage of dialogue around the images of black folks we see on TV and film. While we’ve been critical of Hollywood’s hesitance to include more diversity, we’ve also highlighted several cases of writers and directors sides-stepping the system to get their work directly to the people.

Personally, I’m a fan of the creative spirit and I’m an avid supporter of people who refuse to wait for the mainstream to catch on to their work, but rather bypass the politicized, and often discriminatory, system all together.

Enter Andrew Donsunmu and his film, Restless City. Instead of waiting on Hollywood to tell the story of a balck man who immigrates to New York City and has to struggle to survive, Donsunmu went out and did it himself, releasing the film through Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking AFFRM film, which aims to independently release films from black filmmakers.

When asked why he chose to make Restless City, Donsunmu spoke of the difficulty black filmmakers face in this business.

“I decided to make this film out of frustration about the difficulties about making films! Honestly, I was working on another film for many years, and while it was developing and evolving, I could not raise the funding I needed to make the film, “ he explained to me via email. “RESTLESS CITY was a secondary project I had on the back burner, and when the first film just wasn’t working out, I realized I could move forward with RESTLESS. This story is very important to me, as a person who came to this country to make a living, to be creatively and financially successful, and to live the American Dream. I think RESTLESS embodies the quest of the people of the diaspora in so many ways.”

Despite most filmmakers’ insistence on gaining success the traditional way, Donsunmu says he wasn’t trying to leave his fate up to the Hollywood machine.

“I haven’t actually tried to get a film made in Hollywood… my world exists outside of that machine, for now. I have one main responsibility: to explore the depths of people, for better or worse. I want to go deeper into what makes us tick, what makes us laugh, cry, grow, grieve, evolve.”

So, what does he want viewers to take away from the film?

“I would like viewers of RESTLESS CITY to just see themselves in the characters, to feel a sense of familiarity with the story, to be curious about how it continues after the last frame. I would like viewers to feel at home in the story, to see my NY, and to understand the nuances of the NY they may never look at closely.”

Restless City, which has been hailed as “breathtaking” by critics, opens today in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

Check out the Restless City’s website to find out when it will be opening in other cities. 

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