We all remember High School.
With its cliques and uncaring teachers and 1980s era textbooks, worn at the seams riddled with graffiti. We threw pencils and erasers at each other. Gossiped about the latest failed relationship. Hung out at the corner store. But for some of us, the chaotic vocal minority had a presence. And it was felt. Across The Line, directed by Director X, produced by Floyd Kane, and presented by African Film Festival, hits like a solid train of nostalgia, unafraid to tell the truth in the grit of Nova Scotia’s racist atmosphere.
Starring Stephan James, Sarah Jeffery and Shamier Anderson in the lead roles, Across The Line takes us back to the glory days of youth, where words could be flung and punches thrown without consequences, until they happen. It’s a simple premise: Mattie (Stephan James), aspires to become a professional Hockey player. However, his dreams are threatened by the escalation of violence at his school, and the association his brother, Carter (Shamier Anderson) has with employing prostitutes for quick cash. Things are further complicated when Mattie finds romantic interest in Jayme (Sarah Jeffery), a person of mixed heritage who finds herself indecisive between her current, white boyfriend, and Mattie.
Although the film has it’s shortcomings, particularly with its sudden ending and a sex scene that escalates a bit too quickly (granted, I’ve seen worse) it’s still a decent, (and realistic), odyssey of strong racial tension. And Across The Line takes this realism to the skies, making every character and their subsequent interactions as grounded as could be. This makes for something compelling: as X’s opus takes it’s hour and a half window to tell the viewer: “yes, my friends, this is our reality. How do we fix it?”
Of course, Nova Scotia isn’t necessarily to blame, neither, to an extent, are the characters themselves. Like most places with stark ethnic divide, we have the establishment; unfit social conditions (which in turn is the fault of circumstance) and general ignorance to accuse of the massive conflict between two or more groups of people.
And the film teaches, like most works concerning racism, that we still have much to learn.
Across The Line hits Blu-Ray and Digital DVD on August 1st.