In a packed room at the famous El Rey Theatre in LA last Tuesday, actor Dominique Purdy – better known to his audience under his musical pseudonym Koreatown Oddity – played the host for the event of the night: the premiere of his new movie Driving While Black. A dark comedy looking at the effect of racial profiling and police brutality on the mental psyche of minorities in its Los Angeles setting has never felt like a more relevant piece of art, with revolt in Baltimore and the police-inflicted murders occurring in Ferguson and Staten Island. Whereas most movies come to their own opinions on this American dilemma at a much more morbid and somber note, Purdy and director Paul Sapiano (of The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down fame) were able to translate a serious message that the youth in this country deal with and make it hilariously palatable without the Hollywood whitewash.
As Dominique told the San Franciso Bay View while screening the flick at the San Francisco Black Film Festival last month,”Humor is a good way to get a point across to people about serious issues, so they can laugh and understand then think deep about it. In the times we live in today in America on this issue, I feel this is the type of film that can bring all people together to comprehend on another level what Black people and lots of people of color deal with.” With a soundtrack endemic of all the characters and luminaries in the underground scene in LA such as Stones Throw and Brainfeeder (the score provided by Sa-Ra legend and Kendrick Lamar collaborator Taz Arnold), what Driving While Black is able to do that many recent works such as Dope have failed at is capturing a moment within the black experience and encapsulating it rather than presenting a narrative watered down by a nostalgic homage to the ’90s.
The power in displaying authentic themes of regionalism, which Driving While Black so effortlessly mastered, is what made past movies born out of this hip-hop ethos cult classics – like Above the Rim or New Jersey Drive – hood favorites. DWB feels like now and touches heavily in a comedic manner on the humiliating second-class citizenship that people of color have to deal with at the hands of the law enforcement sworn to protect and serve them. An entirely independent effort, the stream of the new movie is now available as of July 1 for $3.99 on the home site drivingwhileblackmovie.com. Watch the trailer below and get a good sense of why this will be a modern hit.