American Son (film discussion): August 16 at 7pm

Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, with Temple Sinai and the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY, will present a panel discussion on American Son, an adaptation of a Broadway play of the same name. Written by Christopher Demos-Brown and directed by Kenny Leon, while not based on one specific real-life story, American Son explores the truth of the real issues that exist among law enforcement. Kendra Ellis-Connor and her husband, Scott Connor, learn that their biracial 18 year old son, Jamal, a student about to enter West Point, was not actually arrested, but was shot by a Black police officer who had pulled over the teen and his friends after the officer had witnessed the driver – not Jamal – buying drugs. The boys exited the car without the officer’s instructions to do so, and he fired.

The film received negative reviews, citing its social commentary on the subject of race as too heavy-handed. However, if you walk through the 90 minutes of this film, if you let yourself be in this nightmare, you cannot say that communities that are disenfranchised and that are in hostile relationships with police are overreacting. You must understand what the experience is when you allow yourself to spend an evening with this film.

As we spend the night in the police station, we see that the director and writer focus less on Jamal and the confrontation than on the pain of his parents. Kendra seems to understand what the white officer and even her white husband do not: the police are a far greater threat to her black son than any rule-breaking “street” friends may be.

“This film forces us to ask questions, examine societal norms, and dig deeper into stereotypes,” says SJCA Coordinator Phyllis Wang. “During the course of this film, there are times viewers are able to see themselves and their perspective, and have a moment when they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that I was doing that.’”

This is another in our SJCA summer series in which you view the film, American Son, ahead of time on Netflix or another outlet. The group event, a panel discussion of the film and the issues raised, will be held on Sunday, August 16, at 7 p.m.

You must register in advance at: Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 850 6007 0196

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Here is a link to the playbill: