My Name Is Myeisha (2018) [Toronto True Crime Film Festival 2018]

A young woman falls asleep in a parked car with a gun in lap. The police are called to help as the car is broken down. When they get there, all they see is a passed out woman with a gun.

Directed by Gus Krieger who co-wrote with Rickerby Hinds, My Name Is Myeisha is a mash-up of many stories in film and spoken word form, something done here in a masterful way and that creates a film that is fascinating to watch, a film that leaves the viewer almost breathless. The way this is all done helps bring a story to the forefront that is not an easy one to tell. It’s done in a manner where the lead speaks directly to the camera, directly to the viewer, where she gets to tell her story her own way, in her own words. She is a victim here, one of mistaken intentions, one of over-reaction, one more in the endless string of victims of police violence. The film takes this and makes it something that the viewer will want to watch. The writing and directing work give this subject a way to connect with the viewer, to reach people. It’s about the feelings, about what happens to a real person, she’s made real, she’s made whole, she’s undone, and she’s powerful.

Playing the lead Myeisha, actress Rhaechyl Walker is magnetic, powerful, full of verge and life. She tells the story in a way that is direct; she tells the story of Myeisha, and so many others, in a stunning way. She is direct and that is what is needed. It’s brutal in a way, it’s in your face, it works. She does this with conviction and passes the emotions as much as the message to the viewer. Her work here is almost the only work that gets noticed it’s so strong. She is surrounded by people who all give good performances, she is just that much more powerful in hers, her connection of the viewer overtakes the film. However, a few do give performances that work so well with hers and with the material, they stand out for however short a period of time it might be. One of those people is Rickerby Hinds who gives a performance just as good as Walker and one that is right there to support hers. His performance is strong and powerful like hers but he clearly knows she is the lead and lets her shine.

This is all shot in a beautiful manner that imbues the words with actions by cinematographer Jeff Moriarty. His work here helps create the visuals to go with the words in a way that is perfect for the film and its story. His framing and movement give the film that extra oomph needed to really drive it home. His work paired with the editing by Matthew Herrier give the film its dynamics, its way of working with the spoken word, creating a perfect harmony between the words and the visuals.

My Name Is Myeisha is a well told tale, a great concept of spoken words matched to images that works so well. It’s powerful in its message and its performance with strong visuals and direction. It’s one of those movies that should be seen and will open some eyes. It has an important message and doesn’t get in the way of it, something too many films do when they get bogged down by style and attempts at making something great. The final result is somewhere between stage spoken word, narrative film, and even musical. Here something great is done by simply telling an important story, one that much be told, one that must be seen.