“Speak to Me,” and the Movie’s Message

Matthew Boyd, Nersheen Lotus, and Cory Saint-Laurent in “Speak to Me.”

By Jake Maddia

            Long Island native Kurt Damas’s short film “Speak to Me” premiered at Movieland Cinemas in Coram on Thursday, February 16 after a change in venue from Sayville Cinemas, where the debut was originally scheduled. I thought this was an exceptional film, and a very impressive directorial debut for Kurt Damas.

Following the journey of a young man struggling with his own mental health after a personal loss, as well as the impact it has on those around him, this is definitely not an easy movie to watch. However, it shines light on the often-overlooked issue in this country surrounding men’s mental health – particularly among the African American community.

 As an up-and-coming film director, Kurt Damas is both passionate and meticulous in his craft. Especially impressive was the cinematography and tight editing of this short film. I also loved the movies nonchronological use of storytelling, as the movie takes place in both the past and the present without exactly let the audience know when it is flashing back. We are challenged to interpret the choices the characters are making because it doesn’t provide any easy answers. Damas trusts that his audience is paying attention and not unnecessarily holding their hand.

The stylistic influence of Ryan Coogler (director of “Creed,” “Black Panther,” and “Wakanda Forever”) is absolutely present in this film.

After the movie there was a Q&A with the director Kurt Damas, his brother Trevor Jackson, and the cast Cory Saint-Laurent (Simon), Matthew Boyd (Josiah), Nersheen Lotus (Dina), and LaVeda Davis (Mrs. Walker). Clearly this project was a deeply personal experience for the cast as well as Kurt Damas himself.

While “Speak to Me” is a heavy film dealing with dark subject matter, the experience of watching this movie in a packed theater and hearing the stories of the amazing cast afterwards was an absolute pleasure. This talented young director brings to light the on-going crisis that is happening in this country. Let’s continue the conversation.

For more information on the film, visit https://www.speaktomethefilm.com/