“In an era where police killings of Black people earn 10 million YouTube views, this film is about jolting people out of their comfort zone, out of their bubble and into unfamiliar, uneasy and perhaps frightening territory,” says writer-director Lawrence “LAW” Watford about his short film “Catharis.”
The film, which you can watch in its entirety above, tells the story of a Black woman in mourning who confronts a district attorney who won’t bring charges against the police officer who killed her son.
The challenge of filming “Catharsis” in a pandemic added to the normal time and cost restraints of independent filmmaking, amplifying the tension and urgency of the project. So did the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the national debate about what it will take to improve policing in the face of political opportunism, and prosecutors who seem afraid to stand up to bad cops.
Watford jokes that he is both distracted and fueled by social media. In a statement for the film, he notes that his wife “complains that his days are spent wasting away on social media trying to solve the world’s problems through lengthy posts and bitter feuds on Facebook with college friends that turned out to be on the wrong side of the political spectrum.”
But these debates help spark his imagination, and drive to inspire change through cinema.
“I want to start a war between the person we are and the person we want to be. And in the chaos of that internal conflict is where I hope the message of this movie will have the power to at least shift the mindset, even in the slightest degree, for the shortest of moments,” he said.
His effort has not only earned him recognition from entertainer D.L. Hughley, but also made him one of Essence Magazine’s “7 Independent Black Filmmakers To Watch” this year.