IT’S NOT ABOUT JIMMY KEENE is Smart, Witty, Intellectual
13 Feb, 2019
Dig In Magazine attended the Sundance Film Festival 2019 World Premiere of IT’S NOT ABOUT JIMMY KEENE, which was a part of the Indie Episodic section of the festival. We were really moved by the television pilot, which was written, directed, co-produced and co-edited by Caleb Jaffe, who also plays the lead, as Ivan Roistacher. Following a racially charged incident during his freshman year in college that left him angry, frightened and very confused, the 21 year old, talented filmmaker from Culver City, California sacrificed his tuition savings and left school to make a film addressing his confusion. With much support from various mentors and seasoned film industry professionals, he developed his first professional production, IT’S NOT ABOUT JIMMY KEENE.
Dig In Magazine’s Cindy Maram had the opportunity to discuss the TV pilot with both Caleb Jaffe and lead actress Gabrielle Maiden on the red carpet prior to the World Premiere:
In the project, we are brought into the turbulent world of one interracial family who possesses conflicting points of views regarding the police shooting of an unarmed black teen. Friction abounds within this mixed-race Los Angeles family, each with strong points of view regarding the racially infused incident and how to deal with it. Ivan, who is constantly stalked by visions of Jimmy Keene’s floating corpse, looks to the Los Angeles art scene for answers and expresses views that are in opposition to that of his two older sisters’. A family, full of intellect and strong beliefs, are faced with division over these racial occurrences as Ivan searches for his voice. The film opens with a smooth talking Bukka Larouck, a neighbor, poet and sage, played by Roger Guenveur Smith, who previously starred in three consecutive Sundance hits. With a powerful spoken word performance in the middle of the street of Ivan’s neighborhood addressing the racially charged happening, the poet focuses his attention and rant on the very confused Ivan.
Filmmaker and actor Jaffe is talented beyond belief. Not only does his acting bring the audience into his character’s perspective in a charming and amusing fashion, the entire piece itself is smart, witty and intellectually stimulating. Each of his characters is well thought out and strongly developed. There is beautiful chemistry between Jaffe and Gabrielle Maiden, who skillfully plays his mature older sister, Jada Roistacher, exuding the love, warmth and mentorship between a brother and older sibling. Maiden, who for many years was also a sponsored professional snowboarder, successfully demonstrates her God-given talent as an actress through her fiery, brainy performance as an activist fighting for her perspective on race, class and society in her chaotic familial circle. We thoroughly enjoyed the performances of each of the actors in this pilot and hope to see more from Jaffe and Maiden in the future.