A fatal turf war between neighborhoods haunts the city of Richmond, CA. Donté Clark transcends the violence in his hometown by writing poetry about his experiences. Using his voice to inspire those around him, he and the like-minded youth of the city mount an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the hope of starting a real dialogue about violence in the city. Will Richmond force Donté to compromise his idealistic ambitions? Or will Donté end Richmond’s cycle of trauma?
Donté Clark’s poetry captures the violence and heartbreak that haunt certain neighborhoods of Richmond, CA. The turf war between North and Central Richmond has raged for decades, with each generation having their own folkloric stories of how the war began. Donté was born in the heart of North Richmond, but found self-empowerment by writing about his experiences there. Now as a young man, Donté offers that same opportunity to Richmond’s youth, through an arts organization called RAW Talent. “Romeo is Bleeding” is structured around one year in the RAW Talent classroom, as Donté leads a cast of high school students in an effort to mount an urban adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”. As Montague vs. Capulet transforms into North vs. Central, the students of RAW Talent delve deeper into the socio- economic issues that drive the violence in their city. As the play comes together on the stage, real life begins to parallel the Shakespearean tragedy. Pushed to his limits, Donté must decide if he is capable of being the leader that Richmond’s youth wants and needs him to be. The film is set in Richmond, CA, but it captures the complexities of systematic injustices which play out in inner cities across the country. As the nation wrestles with proper policing methods and curbing the gun violence epidemic, Donté reminds us that a major piece of the puzzle is the arts, and creating safe spaces for healthy expression in every community.
About the Director
Donté Clark is a poet, emcee, educator and activist from Richmond, California. As a founding member and artistic director of the RAW Talent Creative Arts Program, Donté wears many hats- coordinating shows and field trips, teaching poetry and theater workshops to low-income youth in his community and coaching his students to find their voices through performance and publication. Donté is a well-known spoken word poet and emcee in the Bay Area- he is asked to perform at schools, conferences, poetry readings and hip hop shows on a regular basis. He was accepted to the VONA program, a prestigious week-long conference for writers of color. Donté’s primary focus is ending the violence that has plagued his community and impacted him deeply- he uses his art and curriculum as a call to action. In the last few years, Donté hosted a town hall on violence in Richmond and took the lead with planning and writing the majority of the script for “Té’s Harmony”. This year he wrote and directed a new play, “Po’Boys Kitchen”, which premiered in March 2014. He continues to spark such critical dialogue and encourages his students to do the same.
Jason is a documentary director and editor, best known for editing the 2013 Academy Award ® winning film, “Twenty Feet From Stardom”. The film earned Zeldes an ACE Award for Best Edited Documentary Feature, and led to other exciting collaborations, including work with the Oceanic Preservation Society on “Racing Extinction” which premiered at Sundance 2015. Prior to his editing career, Jason worked as an assistant to acclaimed filmmakers such as Doug Blush, Kirby Dick, and Patrick Creadon. “Romeo is Bleeding” is Jason’s directorial debut.