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

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

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.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.