Film spotlights black man’s reaction to gentrification
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“Babylon Jones Pt. II” features protagonist Babylon Jones escaping from the basement of the Loyola Danna Student Center before confronting the businessman Mr. White, who takes joy in trapping Jones and tormenting him with the reality that his neighborhood has been gentrified.
Digital film junior Dylan Mininger directed “Babylon Jones Pt. II,” a short film inspired by black exploitation works. It stars both Mininger and marketing sophomore Daniel Garrison. Garrison co-wrote the script, as he said Mininger acknowledged himself as a white male, and therefore an outsider, who was unable to tell the story of a black man suddenly witnessing that his neighborhood has become gentrified without him.
As a New Orleans native, Garrison called the film timely because he thinks gentrification is one of the most important issues in the city right now, yet also one of the easiest problems to solve through physical community action, such as cleaning up properties and informing citizens of what bills to vote on.
“This is one of the last great African-American cities left, and they want it back bad,” Garrison said.
The character Babylon Jones has been away from his neighborhood for five years, and the film sees him realize and take action against the changes orchestrated by Mininger’s Mr. White. Jones awakes inside his old corner store set inside of the basement of the Danna Center.
“I remember when Dylan first told me that the entire movie starts off with me face down in concrete waking up,” Garrison said. “And I was like, ‘that’s kind of how I feel about the current generation of black men is that we’re kind of waking up from this deficit.’”
Garrison compares Babylon Jones’ absence from his neighborhood to the absence of black men he sees in activism, education and the black community as a whole.
“I think that Babylon Jones represents this duality of black men being extremely strong, but at the same time a lot of us being very absent from the forefront of black society,” Garrison said.
No prequel exists for “Babylon Jones Pt. II,” but Mininger said the first part could have taken place in the civil rights movement.
“We’ve hit a new need for a civil rights movement, and that’s where the ‘Pt. II’ comes in; that’s where the waking up on the concrete
“The concrete has been the ending for a lot of black men and black women around this nation,” Garrison said. “It’s almost like a phoenix complex, the idea that rather than tell another story where the concrete is the ending point; the concrete is the starting point of a redemption story.
“Babylon Jones Pt. II” can be viewed on Dailymotion.com.