Writer/Director Qasim Basir, Writer/Producer Samantha Tanner, and Producer Datari Turner all claim their film was completed in one single shot. I’m inclined to believe them, even though I still feel the creative envy coursing through my veins.
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival drama A Boy, A Girl, A Dream is so much more than a single shot, however. It is a portrait of hope, despair, and of hard-won love all set against the backdrop of election night 2016.
The protagonists are Cass and Free, two people who meet one another for the first time on November 8, 2016. Cass is a club promoter taking his friends out for a good time, and Free is a woman from out of town who has a flight to catch in the morning. They soon discover both them are running from their creative dreams. Cass is putting off his possible film aspirations, and Free has a steady, soul-sucking job as a lawyer instead of developing her DJ career.
Both are also aware of the challenges facing them not only as artists, but as black Americans. When Cass defends Free from a group of men, the police show up and put Cass in a chokehold rather than going after the white agitators. This interaction stays with each of them in different ways, and we see in real-time how they grapple with the challenges of racism and map out their horizons of hope against the backdrop of the presidential election.
Cass, played by Omari Hardwick, and Free, played by Meagan Good, have an incredible depth of on-screen chemistry. Every glance between the two is packed with such meaning that it defies comprehension how the actors – and the director – did this in one take.