“Story Ave” is moving portrait of the South Bronx and street art culture

Winner-Best Cinematography at SXSW 2023

Kino Lorber is pleased to present “Story Ave” by first feature filmmaker Aristotle Torres. The film stars beloved Puerto Rican actor Luis Guzmán and rising star Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), alongside a supporting cast of up-and-comers, including Alex R. Hibbert (“Moonlight”), Cassandra Freeman (“Bel-Air”), Coral Peña (“For All Mankind”) and Melvin Gregg (“The Blackening”). 

South Bronx teen Kadir (Blackk) is a gifted visual artist who loses his way following the death of his younger brother. Overcome with grief and struggling with the pressures of school and family, he escapes into the thrilling yet dangerous world of graffiti gangs, seeking an outlet for the creative force threatening to explode out of him. 

To prove himself and join his neighborhood’s ruling gang, Kadir tries to rob no-nonsense MTA conductor Luis (Guzmán) on the Story Ave subway platform. He is caught off guard when Luis agrees to give Kadir the cash if he’ll sit down to a meal with him. 

Following their conversation and the delicate, transformative friendship that grows out of it, Kadir sees for the first time how his artistic talent could lead to a better life. Winner of the Best Cinematography prize at SXSW, “Story Ave” is a moving and authentic portrait of the South Bronx that announces an exciting new cinematic voice by filmmaker Torres.

This could have been just your run-of-the-mill bad kid tries to do good, with the help of a savior who believes in him more than he believes in himself. But it was saved with a good turn with veteran actor Luis Guzmán. 

Kadir is riding a thin line between really polishing his craft as an artist and slowing being sucked into the world of crime and graffiti artists. He is best buddies with Showtime’s “The Chi” Kevin, played by Hibbert. 

Blackk, as Kadir, was first noticed as one of the young Exonerated Five in the film “When They See Us,” and afterward in the television drama “This is Us.” He is great in this role, showing much vulnerability and a desire to really find himself and make a successful exit from his perceived toxic environment. 

Hibbert plays Maurice, who isn’t in the film for its entirety, but is good in trying to steer Kadir in the right direction—even though he participates in covering buildings with positive graffiti and introduces Kadir to the leader of the gang, (played by Gregg), who is Maurice’s brother. 

After a few starts and false starts throughout the film, Kadir and Luis find one accord—only for this relationship to be strained and disintegrate right before our eyes. 

“Asante Blackk is a revelation… What makes “Story Ave” stand out from the crowd is its treatment of the ’hood as a living entity, both in the script and onscreen in director of photography Eric Branco’s exquisite compositions.”

– Damon Wise, Deadline

Take a look at the trailer: 

The film is directed by Aristotle Torres and is co-produced by Jamie Foxx, Lizzie Shapiro and Datari Turner.

“Story Ave” is a good film that shows an element of youth angst manifested in the world of graffiti artists. It opens on Friday, October 6, at Cinema Chatham and other local theaters. 


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