Compton’s Travon Free and the Six Feet Over team took home an Oscar stepping into the history books as the first African-American filmmaker to win in the live-action short category.
I lean into the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.
Co-directed by Free (who also wrote the screenplay) and Martin Desmond Roe, “Two Distant Strangers” is the story of an African-American graphic artist (rapper Joey Badass) who gets stuck in a “Groundhog Day”-esque time loop that always ends in his killing by a White police officer (Andrew Howard).
There were a few hiccups after the historic win, where filmmaker, producer, and comedian Cynthia Kao suggested that the team copied the 2016 short film “Groundhog Day for a Black Man.” I saw this short film as part of the NBC Short Film Showcase, and I was not impressed. I don’t like to speak negatively about other creative people’s work but what stood about this short was the poor execution of the story and the uninspired writing.
Now to the final victory lap. Here’s what Travon Free, Nicholas Maye, Van Lathan, and the newest member of Six Feet Over, Samir Hernandez had to share about winning their first Oscar.
“Being Black producers, winning the Oscar is about more than receiving the highest honor. It’s about carrying the torch from those who came before us and continuing to pave the way for those who are coming after (and with) us. It’s a responsibility that we don’t take likely and an honor that will be with us for the rest of our lives.”~Samir Hernandez
“Winning an Oscar was amazing. What was more amazing was the group that we put together to contextual each the pain of this moment. The fact that we did that, and we’re rewarded for it, is the greatest accolade I’ve ever received in my life.”~Van Lathan
“I wanted to help create something that would spark conversation, thought-provoking, something that made you feel. I wanted to do something with my friends who are also black men, that was dope and expressive. I wanted to create something that would make my family proud. I accomplished that, and that is the real win for me. But for the project to win an Oscar, that’s the cherry on top and in blessed to be a part of that”~Nicholas Maye
“To win an Oscar in a monumental feat. To win an Oscar for a film that tackles the ever-present danger of police violence against Black bodies is something that can’t be qualified. We sent a message and it seems to have been heard loud and clear. I couldn’t be happier to have made history with this team and I can’t wait to keep making more of it.”~Travon Free
“Two Distant Strangers,” is now streaming on Netflix.