Identification script

Title: Identification

Scene 1: Boy Into Man
Man smokes, boy takes picture. They are dressed identically.

Scene 2: Smoke
Man lying in smoke
Woman (Sariah) face in smoke

Scene 3:
Tree reflection in water
Black woman spinning in space (void)
Man lying and unmoving
Sariah at broken door

Scene 4: Maced
Sariah truck reflection
Audio (voices): You maced the other guy, you fucking idiot.
Get your hands off him, it was the other guy who was messing with us.
He didn’t do anything.
He didn’t do nothing.
Let him go.
You maced the wrong guy man.
Yeah, you maced the wrong guy.
I saw this, he did not do anything.
Let go of me please.
Hey hey hey.
You mace the black guy, are you kidding me?
Put your hands up on the wall. Sir, put your hands up on the wall.
Let him go.
Do you have water?
He didn’t do anything.
Are you going to mace a black man?
Will you people relax?
Water, we need water!

Scene 5: Everyday
Unmoving man in front of closed diner
Interior scenes friends hang out, boy takes a picture
Sariah pushes a cart in Wallmart

Scene 6: James Baldwin 1
Jeffrey Wray reads James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: The moment I saw him I knew why I had put off this visit so long. I had told my mother that I did not want to see him because I hated him. But this was not true. It was only that I had hated him and I wanted to hold on to this hatred. I did not want to look on him as a ruin: it was not a ruin I had hated. I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.

We travelled out to him, his older sister and myself, to what seemed to be the very end of a very Long Island. It was hot and dusty and we wrangled, my aunt and I, all the way out, over the fact that I had recently begun to smoke and, as she said, to give myself airs. But I knew that she wrangled with me because she could not bear to face the fact of her brother’s dying.

Neither could I endure the reality of her despair, her unstated bafflement as to what had happened to her brother’s life, and her own.

Scene 7 Ordinary
Boy lies on bed
Body on steps of building
Sariah in glass
Sariah voice-over: I see someone casually walking in an uneventful place on an uneventful day. They’re talking, they’re talking on the phone. They’re not paying much attention and then there are loud popping noises. They’re abrupt and sudden. The person falls to the ground, they drop what was in their hand and it scatters across the floor, it was black so I looked odd against the white tile.
Tilt down to floor

Scene 8 Melt
Hoodie on fire
Abstract ice meltings and formations with police scanner audio

Scene 9 State Capitol
Unmoving man lies in front of building
Sariah sits in officials room
Sariah reflection in golden elevator door
10 kids lie on tiles
Sariah at broken door

Scene 10 James Baldwin 2
Jeffrey Wray reads James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: So we wrangled and I smoked and from time to time she fell into a heavy reverie. Covertly, I watched her face, which was the face of an old woman; it had fallen in, the eyes were sunken and lightless; soon she would be dying, too.

In my childhood – it had not been so long ago – I had thought her beautiful. She had been quick-witted and quick-moving and very generous with all the children and each of her visits had been an event. At one time one of my brothers and myself had thought of running away to live with her. Now she could no longer produce out of her handbag some unexpected and yet familiar delight. She made me feel pity and revulsion and fear. It was awful to realize that she no longer caused me to feel affection. The closer we came to the hospital the more querulous she became and at the same time, naturally, grew more dependent on me. Between pity and guilt and fear I began to feel that there was another me trapped in my skull like a jack-in-the-box who might escape my control at any moment and fill the air with screaming.

Scene 11 Blinds
Unmoving man lies in front of building for sale with broken window
Woman walks across urban desert
Tree reflection in water
(Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit plays: “Southern trees bear strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root…”)
Shadows – man enters building
Friends play game of trust
Body lies in front of a building

Scene 12 Gathering
Man writes, vacuums, bags objects, cries, sleeps
Sariah walks to ruin
Three figures float in water
Neighbourhood party outdoors, friends and smoke
Tree reflection in water
Older man in window
Boy adjusts cap
Sariah walks to door in colonial architecture, Sariah face at window

Scene 13 James Baldwin 3
Jeffrey Wray reads James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: She began to cry the moment we entered the room and she saw him lying there, all shriveled and still, like a little black monkey. The great, gleaming apparatus which fed him and would have compelled him to be still even if he had been able to move brought to mind, not beneficence, but torture; the tubes entering his arm made me think of pictures I had seen when a child, of Gulliver, tied down by the pygmies on that island. My aunt wept and wept, there was a whistling sound in my father’s throat; nothing was said; he could not speak. I wanted to take his hand, to say something. But I do not know what I could have said, even if he could have heard me. He was not really in that room with us, he had at last really embarked on his journey; and though my aunt told me that he said he was going to meet Jesus, I did not hear anything except that whistling in his throat.

Scene 14 Flight
Watery reflection
Man at pool, man floats in water
Trees in water

Sariah and cop
Sariah sits in classroom looking at camera
Nighttime: friends play, people run, anguished face, prayers

Scene 15 Charlie “Africa” Keunang murder
Man in light
Audio: Crowd sounds, gunshots.

Man with cellphone: Whoa. Omigod. Damn. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Fuck. Motherfucker. Motherfucker. Motherfucker, motherfucker. Motherfucker, motherfucker. They just killed that man. They just shot that motherfucker man like that. There’s nine motherfucking police out there. Ain’t nobody got no fucking guns. I’m gonna record this shit. Yeah. Ain’t nobody got no motherfucking guns. They just shot that man right here man. They just shot that motherfucker right here. They just shot that man right here man. I’m gonna record all this shit. (noise) That’s fucked up. That man is dead now. That man is dead. That man is dead man. You coward. That man is fucking dead. Six motherfucking police out here. Six motherfucking police. Six motherfucking police just killed this man. You know what I’m saying? (noise) That’s the one who killed him right there. Goddman right. That’s bullshit. He killed him. (noise)

Police: Can you back up. Can you back up.

Man with cellphone: You ready to kill another black man. You sell out. You sell out motherfucker. Take the pistols off, take the gun off motherfucker. Tough ass bitch. They got a man down dead. He’s dead as a motherfucker. They just killed this motherfucker.

Scene 16 Identification
Sariah writes on blackboard: I can identify.

Title: On March 1, 2014 Los Angeles police officers Chana Syed, Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres assaulted, tasered then shot a man named Charlie “Africa” Keunang to death on the 500 block of South San Pedro Street. No one was charged with his murder.

Elliott Adogony
James Baldwin
Dexter Lieberthal Brazier
Nicola Alexis-Brooks
James Fagan
Brittany Holmes
Mike Hoolboom
Jahnoy Lindsay
Sariah Metcalfe
Shakeem Masoni-Pascoe
Ian Siporin
Phil Strong
Christopher Washington
Jeffrey Wray