Canadian director's film about a battle rapper from Ferguson is Oscar bound

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Image: Meralta Films and Sami Khan. Used with permission.

Canadian filmmaker Sami Khan's acclaimed short documentary St. Louis Superman has been nominated in the short documentary category at the Academy Awards. Khan made the film with American co-director Smriti Mundhra and it has received critical acclaim in film festivals across Canada and the U.S.

The film tells the story of Bruce Franks Jr., a 34-year-old Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri house of representatives. He was elected to the state legislature in 2016 after he contested the results of the  Democratic primary. Franks argued before a judge that there were irregularities in the casting of absentee ballots, and the judge agreed. A second election was ordered and Franks was the winner. He resigned in 2019.

In the film, Franks Jr. must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a critical bill for his community. This short verité documentary follows Franks at a critical juncture in his life, when he is forced to deal with the mental trauma he's been carrying for the nearly 30 years since his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him. 

Known as "Superman" to his constituents, he is a political figure the likes of which you've never seen -- full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most exciting and unapologetic young leaders in the country.

The film made headlines across North America during its film festival run, and garnered a bunch of prizes along the way, including at Tribeca, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, Traverse City, Indy Shorts, Pittsburgh Shorts, Hawaii, St. Louis and Rhode Island.

About our guest:

Sami Khan is a filmmaker based in New York City. His work has been screened at leading festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival. He graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in film. Khoya, Sami's feature debut as writer/director, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute's All Access Fellowship and received financial backing from Spike Lee. Khan is currently an adjunct filmmaking lecturer at Columbia University and Brooklyn College where his teaching focuses on empowering young filmmakers of colour. 

Image: Meralta Films and Sami Khan. Used with permission.

F2F Music and Image: David Peck and Face2Face. 

For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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