Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square


Year: 1997
Country: United States
Run Time: 92 minutes

"When I was little I wanted to fly. I wanted to be Superman. That's what brought me into acting." The 14-year-old Michael and his upbeat attitude sums up the spirit of many a fresh young newcomer drawn to the stage. But Michael's circumstances are not so ideal. His wounded family lives in Watts, South Central Los Angeles, a crime-ridden community ruled by gangs, guns and ghetto feuds, where police are a frequent (and unwelcome) presence. Too many South Central kids look forward only to jail and/or the grave by age 18. Enter Colors United, to whihc Michael belongs, a theater workshop that uses drama therapy to stress self-esteem, self-control and self-expression for 'at-risk' children of the streets. COLORS STRAIGHT UP follows six aspiring performers. Michael, LaToya, Oscar, Stanley, Norma and Cynthia, through a year of hard work, police raids, funerals, Shakespeare and ultimate triumph wiht the production "Watts Side Story." This is no simple "Fame"-tastic boosterism for a liberal social program; Michele Ohayon's camera stunningly juxtaposes play-acted violence or grief and the real thing, demonstrating the narrow and dangerous path these young people must walk. In an age when politicians use 'midnight basketball' as a joke, Colors United and COLORS STRAIGHT UP shine like a spotlight through the chaos and despair.

Michele Ohayon

Julia Schacter, Michele Ohayon

Theo Van Sande

Edgar Burcksen

Film Contact
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