Thick grey clouds hung in the sky as the sunset on an intimate crew gathered outside a discreet DIY venue. West Side Gunn Day was winding down to a close and it was here I had the pleasure of attending a private viewing of the long awaited and highly buzzed Griselda movie “Conflicted”.
Conflicted is a crime drama movie that occurs in some fairly present time in Buffalo, NY . I LOVED that this film was told by Black voices and captured through the lens in which they were experienced. Conflicted was directed by AK. Reed stars and was executively produced by Benny the Butcher, J Holiday, Adiyon Dashalon and Michael Rapaport- a mostly Buffalo crew y’all !
Conflicted does contain violence/ harm against Black Men and Black Women – please be advised as you read further . I will not, however divulge details as I don’t want to give spoilers!
Conflicted pays homage to a history of storytelling that is uniquely done by Black Men. In the 90s and early Millennia , many rappers crossed over into film telling their own stories on the big screen . Conflicted is giving me early Master P and Cameron film maker , Belly, Juice type of vibes .
In “Conflicted” we follow the lead character , Hunter as he re-enters society after serving five years in prison . I appreciated the choice of direction of Hunter’s first 24 hours back to Buffalo. The sequence of these scenes incited feelings of warm nostalgia in the audience that could be felt as people laughed and agreed with the characters on screen . “Conflicted” addresses topics we, Black people , in our own community experience and aren’t ready to talk about yet . There was the gun violence yes, yet they went the additional layer to how PTSD affects not only the victim and their families.
It is so important that we hold this truth about how the trauma of gun violence transforms our community when we are actively working to build a future that is a systematic alternative to the police state we are currently living in. In the film the police nor state address the emotional distress or safety concerns of the characters. The characters do not express any desire for them to do so either. In fact, they devise resolutions to situations each exposing more about their beliefs of justice. This film brought back familiar questions I’m often left toying with like:
‘How Do we define justice?’
‘How do we hold people accountable when harm happens?’
And “How are we healing ourselves?”
Silence fell on the audience at the accurate depiction of Rape Culture perpetuating itself in an all too familiar scenario. The portrayal of the events , or women in this film for that matter- depicted how society has influenced the ways in which Black men have learned to be in relation to Black women and the desperate need for that to change. I found myself desiring more from the women in the film, who often served as comic relief or comfort. I felt their characters came off two dimensional leaving much of their personalities to be filled by the imagination of the audience.
Buffalo culture seeped through this film so effortlessly. I enjoyed the sprinkled cameo appearances of Buffalonians throughout our the film. And yes, a hilariously accurate La Novas scene, well placed to interrupt the serious tone and showcase some of that Notorious Buffalo culture -Something that I am excited for so many Buffalonians to enjoy!
I feel deeply honored to have been able to experience a Buffalo story on screen in our hometown . And proud that Buffalo Kids are now on a platform to be seen and heard by all .
Conflicted does not have a public release date as of yet . Stay tuned to Griselda for updates on this!