I saw this one at AFI DOCS in 2019, back when we could still go to festivals. And it’s just now coming into theaters virtually. 17 Blocks is a sad and personal gun violence tale. Shot over two decades by a family in Washington, DC, you see kids growing up in a single parent house. Mom is a junkie, though she does try to keep it together. Her three kids do their best. But there is one kid who is the star, Emmanuel – good grades, nice girlfriend, plans for the future. He lives with his older brother Smurf who he idolizes and sister Denice. And then there is a tragic shooting.
The film is about how the family got to that point and how it affected them afterwards. They record all the time and have a camera in the house, shooting even when the sister is wiping up the blood in the vestibule. The most shocking thing though in the movie is the crawl at the end of it where they say the film is dedicated to the victims of gun violence in DC since the day the brother was shot and you see one card and think, “That many?” but then there is another card and another and another and another. And this is happening just 17 blocks from the U. S. Capitol Building.
You feel by the end like you’ve moved in with this family and you care about them and their future. It’s a very powerful call for some serious gun reform and a societal shift in thinking around how we treat addiction and families in need. The film available in virtual cinemas starting February 19th. Find your theater here.
There’s no trailer available, but here’s a bit with the director and the family from the film.