“I never knew what terror was until I saw it.”
Over the last several months, our country’s cultural climate has drastically changed. Protests have erupted across the nation, centered on racial relations and police brutality. Many are using their voice and platform, calling for a change in the system that discriminates against minorities.
Though created long before the pandemic restricted movement across the globe, Sophia Nahli Allison’s short film, A Love Song for Latasha, sheds light on the origins of the 1992 civil uprising in South Central Los Angeles.
The brief but poignant nineteen-minute film tells the story of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, a Black girl who found herself starring down a gun barrel while attempting to complete a purchase from her neighborhood convenience store. The manager, a known racial profiler, took the opportunity to send a message, claiming that the young girl never intended to pay for the orange juice, thus placing a $1.79 price tag on her life.
The film, a dreamlike odyssey of sorts, in a vibrant and stunning display of how enriching a short, concise telling can be in capturing a raw emotion that is equal parts heartbreaking, traumatizing, and inspiring. In apparent contrast to one another, the emotions send you on a roller coast of highs and lows as you piece together the final moments of a young girl’s life and the decades of impactful change her death triggered.
Instead of focusing on the young girl’s death, or the protests that followed, the film removes the situation from the context of Harlins’ existence. Turning our attention to the promising life that was lost that morning, we get a more focused narrative. The presentation isn’t entirely traditional, but that is, in part, what allows A Love Song for Latasha to shine. Hearing stories from her cousin and best friend, two souls still heavily affected by the tragedy, pulls at your heartstrings as you yearn for a deeper understanding with a more promising resolution.
Backed by a filmmaker who truly understands her vision, A Love Song for Latasha is beaming with creativity, elegantly capturing its central theme as it focuses your attention and brings about a story that is more timely now than ever. Though the film requires an audience who yearns for such a presentation, the short film utilizes its runtime, giving us an all too familiar story, with a fresh, unique perspective.
A Love Song for Latasha is not a political film. Through the story is rooted in the political realm, Sophia Nahli Allison has given the young girl a deeper meaning. By crafting a narrative that concentrates primarily on her life, we get to focus on the woman. Her beauty and innocence hold our attention as she becomes more than a movement. This film, also beautiful, establishes more love into her memory.
*This film is streaming globally on Netflix.