This year’s Charlottesville Indie Short Series is fast approaching, with a selection of indie shorts as well as a panel of directors all taking place on July 30th. One of the selected directors is the winner André Joseph, whose latest short, ‘Dismissal Time’, will be screened as part of the film series.
Staten Island native Joseph sat down with The Cavalier Daily after his film’s premiere in Pennsylvania to talk about his filmmaking experience and what he hopes “Dismissal Time” will accomplish here in Charlottesville.
“We’ve done a number of shorts, with ‘Dismissal Time’ being our fifth or sixth professionally directed short,” Joseph said.
The “we” Joseph refers to is AJ Epyx productions – his independent production company, founded shortly after Joseph graduated from Emerson College in 2006. Through AJ Epyx, Joseph quickly produced his first short feature, a romantic comedy with a touch of heist. Along with its selection of shorts, AJ Epyx Productions has since also produced music videos, promos and videography for events in New York.
Unlike Joseph’s previous cinematic offerings, “Dismissal Time” is a deeply personal endeavor based on events in Joseph’s own life as well as several incidents he has read about in the news.
“Dismissal Time” follows a black Catholic student named TK as he deals with the fallout of his romantic interest in a white classmate, which leads to cyberbullying, harassment and false accusations of planning a shooting. in a school. As the school administrators tell TK they will defend him, they end up sweeping the whole incident under the rug. Joseph explained that TK was a loose replacement for himself and no one was ever held accountable when he had an almost identical experience in his youth.
In Joseph’s eyes, his treatment by his peers and the school administration was not just a moral failure on the part of those involved, but active racial injustice at the institutional level. This attitude led him to direct “Dismissal Time” at a time of heightened visibility for racial politics.
Joseph is particularly aware of how Charlottesville has been affected by the indifferent institutional attitudes he criticizes in “Dismissal Time”. The traumatic events of August 2017 »Rally “Let’s unite the right”a gathering of white supremacists in downtown Charlottesville that morphed deadly when a car hit and killed resident Heather Heyer, are particularly significant in the film’s suitability for screening in Charlottesville.
“I’m a very private person who kept this kind of, you know, suppressed for a very long time,” Joseph said. “And I think between what happened in Charlottesville in 2017, up to the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests, a lot of those old feelings started to come back.”
Joseph’s goal for the film was not to seek awards or revenue, but to present a statement of solidarity which Joseph said needed to be released as soon as possible.
“Maybe someone who goes through my situation and the situation in the film knows that they are not alone and can feel like there is someone who understands what is going on. there,” Joseph said. “And you can let them speak when they see an injustice like this.”
Joseph highlighted the incredible support he received from the cast and crew for telling this story. He described the energy throughout the production process as determined and sincere, with no one involved in the film giving “a halfway performance”.
“Dismissal Time” premiered at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in June 2022. Rather than end credits, the film ends with a slideshow of different real-life stories of black teenagers who were profiled and harassed, some of whom committed suicide. . Joseph described the immediate reaction to the film as heavy silence, but the post-screening Q&A session gave viewers a chance to react to the film in a personal way.
“That was probably the most cathartic for me, even more than doing the scenes in the movie, it was just hearing people talk about their own issues, their own stories that they went through when they were young” , said Joseph.
Joseph is thrilled to bring that same discussion atmosphere to Charlottesville.
“History is important and meaningful to play in this city,” Joseph said. “So I’m really excited to hopefully generate a good reaction from the public. Whatever the outcome, I’ll be happy to talk to people and hopefully they can share their stories with me.
“Dismissal Time” will screen at 7:00 p.m., July 30 at the Vinegar Hill Theater.