A Long Walk starts out like an innocent film about childhood and the dynamic between boys – which are basically it’s core topics. But things change drastically when a father drags out his young son to the street to punish him for dressing up in women’s clothing and show the whole community how disappointed he is by his son’s behavior. The neighborhood kids giggle along as they see one of their peers paraded through the streets, until the boy’s mother comes home and puts an end to this charade. While the parents argue, one of the boy’s friends reminisces about what happened, and soon the lives of everyone involved are about to be changed forver.
The story of the film is based on true events, as the film’s writer/director Chinonye Chukwu told SOTW via e-mail. “The first half of A Long Walk is based on a true story in the childhood life of a former professor of mine, Samuel Autman. This story is actually from a chapter of his forthcoming memoir, “Sanctified.” Samuel told me the story a few years ago, when I was visiting my Alma Mater, and I was so shocked by it. The way he told the story and the way the story read on paper was visually powerful, I immediately knew I wanted to share this story with the world through film.” The connection to the story was also deepened by the desire to make a personal film about broader subjects we face in our society. “I made this film to instigate much needed conversations about identity and all of which that encompasses. We rarely see images of black people on screen as just human beings navigating the complexities of human existence. A Long Walk is my effort to do just that. This story is, unfortunately, inspired by true events and will, hopefully, inspire progressive discussions about gender, identity, sexuality and humanity.”
When a grown man suddenly enters the scene shouting at the young boy in the yellow jersey, it seems a bit disorientating at first, but soon it becomes evident that this is not only a film about identity and how careless play can turn into something very serious, but even more so about regret and about what happened on this fateful afternoon. We often wish that we could change the past, especially as our actions, or sometimes even more important – our inaction, define us in the present, if we want it to or not. The desire for making sense of what has happened can haunt us for the rest of our lives, and it’s not easy to accept something we so dearly would wish to make undone.