Cleveland Native's Film "The Land" Premieres at Sundance to Rave Reviews

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COURTESY SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
  • Courtesy Sundance Film Festival
"The Land," a film produced and shot here in Cleveland, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival yesterday.

The film is written and directed by Cleveland-native Steven Caple Jr., a University of Southern California graduate, and co-produced by the Grammy-nominated rapper Nas. It stars R&B singer and multiple Grammy award winner Erykah Badu and Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly, as well as a few names you may have heard before: Moises Arias, Ezri Walker, Michael K. Williams, Kim Coates and Rafi Gavron. It's Caple's debut effort.



In the film, four young skateboarders dangerously cross paths with a drug kingpin after finding pills in a stolen car.

The early reviews, at least according to Flavorwire, was amazing. Here's their take on the film that enjoyed a "rapturous reception" yesterday.



In its broad strokes, it sounds like something you’ve seen before – a quartet of friends resort to slinging molly, hoping for a path out of their rotting neighborhood – but it’s a lived-in, breathed-in movie, filled with atmospheric details, unexpected characters, and a striking authenticity.

The title is shorthand for its setting of Cleveland, Ohio, seen here as a decaying urban rot. Out of its abandoned storefronts and shuttered manufacturing plants emerge four friends on skateboards, often in slow motion, the filmmaker shooting them with the majesty they imagine for themselves. Caple’s camera prowls through the city’s hip-hop/skater subculture, where the four friends ditch school to practice their tricks, hoping to land sponsorship for tournaments and, eventually, make their way out of these streets. But while they’re waiting for that ship to come in, they steal cars – and one fateful night, in a bag in a trunk, they find an unholy amount of MDMA. And they decide to make some money selling it, in spite of a junkie associate’s warning: “This is Momma’s shit.”



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