A new short film from a New York City-based director takes a dark comedic approach to real racial tensions in America.
“A Storybook Ending” follows the story of a Black man who accidentally kills an undercover White cop in self-defense, with the aftermath and cover-up setting off a chain reaction of deceit, blackmail, and murder.
The short was written and directed by Lanre Olabisi and stars Rotimi Paul (“The First Purge”), Carra Patterson (“Straight Outta Compton”), Sawandi Wilson (“Isn’t It Romantic”) and Toni Ann DeNoble (“Manifest”).
The film is adapted off of a feature-length film that Olabisi wrote a couple of years ago, which is currently in production. Olabisi began to write the feature-length version after tennis pro James Blake was mistakenly identified as a suspect of interest in 2015 and was thrown to the ground and arrested by a plainclothes NYPD officer.
“The officer never identified him himself, he just attacked [Blake],” said Olabisi. “What I remember thinking is if someone just ran up and attacked me, I’m resisting, I’m going to fight back, and potentially something bad could happen. I was on the wrestling team in school, I studied Jiu-Jitsu, I could defend myself. I asked myself, what would have happened if that were me, if I fought back— what if I hurt or killed this guy? If I kept making the wrong decision, what would happen?”
Unlike many films that address similar subject matter, Olabisi decided to frame the film as a dark comedy rather than something like a social justice piece.
“It’s a dark comedy, it’s not the traditional thing you think of when you hear the subject matter,” said Olabisi. “It’s not a social justice piece by any stretch of the imagination. I thought of doing that, but wanted to do something completely different. I had never actually seen a Black cast in a neo-noir dark comedy, so it was kind of a fun way to tackle the short.”
“A Storybook Ending” recently screened at the HBO Short Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival, as well as the Black Star Film Festival. Olabisi says that the dark comedy style that the short really drew the audience in during the screenings.
“The reception has been excellent,” said Olabisi. “The style kind of throws the audience off a little. The short starts with serious images with light, jovial music. It immediately puts [the audience] at ease so when it gets dark it can punch them in the face. It’s been very good, we’ve reviews come out that have been very positive. I wish I could see this in front of an audience. This time next year, maybe.”
While the story is relevant amid the recent surges in the Black Lives Matter movement, Olabisi says that the story “A Storybook Ending” could be told at any point in history and would still be a relevant story to tell.
“People often feel that this is timely because of what is happening now,” said Olabisi. “You could literally take this story at any point in nature’s history and it would be relevant. Unfortunately, people will say it’s relevant for quite some time.”
For updates or more information about the short, visit astorybookendingfilm.com.