Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2010: Mothers’ crusade


Movie review: ‘Not My Son’


By Kenn McCracken

Review at a glance: “Not My Son” shows Birmingham mothers determined to move beyond tragedy to healing and improving their community.

Not My Son

A mothers’ support group, seen in “Not My Son.”

“Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without having to ask you if I can. That dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you ripping him off. Everything is supposed to be different than it is.”

— Simon (Danny Glover), “Grand Canyon”

This bit of dialogue kept echoing through my head as I watched the film, “Not My Son.”

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalThe documentary screens Saturday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

The movie focuses on Birmingham-area mothers left behind after the murder of their children, though not on the reasons behind these killings. Whether the victims were innocent bystanders or gang members is ultimately unrelated and unimportant to the parents, who bury their offspring before they reach adulthood.

The public-television quality is a bit off-putting, sadly, more akin to a PBS documentary special than a feature film for a theater setting.  Regardless, an important message emerges from Dwight Cammeron’s film, and not just for the black community or for families in underprivileged neighborhoods. Problems like this shouldn’t exist, and solutions to them are possible only with a true community effort, whether you’re black or white, rich or poor, single or married, childless or the head of a huge clan.

Films like “Boyz n the Hood” show the nihilistic perspective of the young men and women growing up in today’s mean streets. “Not My Son” shows the hope and determination of mothers to help others carry on, even when their future feels like it’s been taken away.

Perhaps everything is supposed to be different than it is, but these women do a commendable job not only in dealing with the way things aren’t supposed to be, but trying to make them better.

Kenn McCrackenKenn McCracken (@insomniactive) is a director and an award-winning screenwriter (2005 Sidewalk Sidewrite grand prize, “Muckfuppet”). His song “Theme for an Imaginary Revenge” was used in the music video of the same title, screening at Sidewalk on Sept. 25.

He’s also a writer (Birmingham Weekly, Spin.com, mental_floss), a bassist for the Exhibit(s), an eight-time cat juggling champion for Malta and an ongoing experiment in sleep deprivation. He occasionally steals your best ideas to claim at his blog, Dairy of a Madman.

“Not My Son” will screen at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Alabama Theatre Studio Loft.

Video: “Not My Son” Trailer


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1 Yip for “Sidewalk 2010: Mothers’ crusade”

  1. Documentary "Not My Son" debuts on Alabama Public TV tonight | Birmingham news, bargains, events - Magic City Post
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 9:01 am

    […] film screened at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in September. Reviewer Kenn McCracken wrote: “An important message emerges from Dwight Cammeron’s film, and not just for the black […]

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