Title: Riot in the Streets
Written by: A.J. Harrison
Type: Feature Film
Logline: When a race-related riot breaks out involving the cousin of a celebrity journalist, she revisits her hometown to interview her cousin, all the while being forced to reconnect with her family and the culture that she left behind to pursue her career.
Synopsis: DIETRA JONES, a big-time, celebrity journalist (think Don Lemon if you will), reluctantly leaves the comfort of her New York City-based studio to the Midwestern town that she grew up in to capture an in-depth story from her second cousin MJ, a witness to a police brutality case. The producers of her network believe that her lack of response to the situation has spewed criticism from the black community and the public as a whole. The issue also begins to affect Dietra's personal life. Her white boyfriend, DEVON, is trying desperately to relate to her in the midst of all this even though she's pushing him away, feeling like he'll never truly be able to understand what she's going through.
In order to get access to her young cousin, Dietra first contacts his mother, her first cousin, TYRETHA. Once having been best friends, Dietra tries to reconnect with Tyretha after years of not speaking. Tyretha, a no-nonsense person that sees right through Dietra and her glamorous lifestyle isn't immediately thrilled to hear from her. After the awkwardness breaks, Dietra discovers that Tyretha and the other locals have more of a story to tell than MJ himself. She starts to observe and document the different opinions and perspectives of the controversy that has now gained world-wide attention. Dietra dedicates herself to reveal the real effects of the constant rioting and protests as she discovers the hardships of Tyretha's life, being pinned for much blame as MJ's mother. She also witnesses the physical destruct of the community when she is on the scene of an actual riot.
Once apprehensive about covering the story, Dietra unwinds and enjoys the chaotic hilarity of her family. She also rediscovers a culture that she left behind years ago to pursue her career. She works to give back to the community that made her and to the person, Tyretha, that knows her best.
I myself am from Ferguson, MO., where many of the most recent, racially-charged riots took place. Being present while much of that was happening really inspired me to write a story that would observe the many different perspectives of this ongoing, unresolved social issue. Also, being African-American myself, I know that humor is a huge element in our culture and so I wanted to capture that in the story as well. I feel that Riot in the Streets deals with a sensitive topic in a light-hearted, relatable way.
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