San Francisco documentary filmmaker Kevin Epps.
San Francisco documentary filmmaker Kevin Epps gained a national reputation with his 2002 film “Straight Outta Hunters Point,” which showed conditions on the streets: drive by shootings, car jackings, open drug dealing, street violence, the massive police presence and young men trying to rap their way out of public housing.
That film helped Epps launch his career. It was widely viewed across the country and opened doors for the self-taught filmmaker. Since then, he has traveled all over the country, working with other television and film production companies such as Current TV and the Discovery Channel.
Epps, who was raised in Hunters Point, is back with a sequel, “Straight Outa Hunters Point 2,” which explores how the community has changed in the last decade.
In an interview Epps talked about what he was trying to achieve then and what he is doing with his work now.
“I was giving people an inside view of what life is like growing up in this African American community that was dealing with various socio-economic issues,” said Epps. “But, I primarily looked at street life and how it is played out.”
The community is different now, he said. “You can see the changes in Hunters Point,” he said. While he sees some of the changes as positive, some are not.
The film chronicles the continuing street violence, capturing a homicide in one scene. However, the new documentary has a much clearer focus, a better narrative and better filmmaking then original. While both tell stories of despair and hopelessness, the sequel has a strong message of hope.
The closing scenes show residents of the community who are fed up with the violence. A rally is held in Hunters Point, and people take a neighborhood walk through neighborhood. This message of taking back the streets ends the film.
Epps was named a 2011 De Young Artist Fellow. He has finished a short documentary FAM BAM, which takes a critical look at the structure of the African American family.
He is currently shooting a feature, “Jewel,” about a family moving back into the neighborhood after losing a home to foreclosure.
“My work is centered on the African American story,” said Epps. “I hope to build on that body of work and bring stories to the screen that are outside the Hollywood lens.”
“Kevin Epps is one of the new breed of black filmmakers who is forging a new genre of film making,” said Jacquie Taliaferro, head of La Hitz Media, new digital media outlet company.