Still image from 'Story Ave.'
Still image from 'Story Ave.'

Art Takes Back The Bronx in New Film 'Story Ave'

The limited release film, Story Ave, conveys love, loss, and the art that comes from it.

For his debut film, writer and director, Aristotle Torres delivers an enthralling audiovisual recreation of his own upbringing, detailing art and its place in the Bronx's culture. Vivid colors, intense orchestral strings, and genuine talent bring the film to life, making it feel like an immersive extension of reality. The film follows a teenage boy, Kadir (Asante Blackk, When They See Us), and his struggle to move on after the death of his younger brother. Kadir and his best friend, Mo (Alex Hibbert, Moonlight) try to gain the attention and acceptance of a graffiti gang, led by Mo’s brother, Skemes (Melvin Gregg, The Blackening). Upon Kadir’s initiation into the gang, he attempts to rob an MTA employee, Luis (Luis Guzmán) who offers him a destiny-altering decision—the street life or a more fulfilling future.

In an interview with Pilot Productions, Torres shares how Story Ave started as a short film and how the short and the full-length feature are loosely based on his own childhood experiences in the Bronx. He emphasizes his desire to tell a story that exhibits authenticity to his community from a unique angle.

Story Ave Trailer #1 (2023)

Perspective is a major theme in the film. In a cast interview with Deadline, Gregg shares how Torres’ storytelling tactics allow for his character to have more layers and complexity, as opposed to being one-dimensional. The film presents nuanced characters and situations that closely mirror the struggles of everyday people. By working to display authenticity, Torres creates a film that stays true to both himself and his community.

Using a unique sequence of camera angles and shots, Torres is able to craft a captivating lens for storytelling. The establishing shots used help contribute to the vintage feel of the film, showcasing several Bronx neighborhoods and their incredible art. Kadir is also seen in a split mirror shot, representing his two opposing choices. The use of the double-dolly shot doesn’t go unnoticed either, a subtle nod to film legend, Spike Lee. Torres’ use of close shots, however, is the shining star of his cinematography skills. There are several close-ups sprinkled throughout the film, and each one is executed with a deft intensity that immediately draws the audience into the scene.

Torres’ use of color and sound also add to the immersive experience. The bright neon colors and the stirring whines of the string orchestra go hand in hand to mimic the tensions of the film.

All of the bold major cinematic elements allow the talent of the actors to really stand out. Rising star, Asante Blackk, is no stranger to coming-of-age roles, and he executes this one masterfully. His connection and chemistry with his character are undeniable, resulting in a heartfelt performance. His capacity to portray complex emotions makes every scene he’s in absolutely magnetic. Blackk performs alongside veteran actor, Luis Guzmán, who personifies the kind and compassionate father figure that Kadir desperately needs. Guzmán’s abilities to command a screen have never been questioned, and he exhibits a powerful presence from his first appearance to his last.

Hibbert delivers a strong performance in his supporting role, bringing an ever-present intensity that makes him shine on screen. Melvin Gregg also sheds new light on his dramatic abilities, heavily contrasting his comedic prowess in The Blackening. All of the actors combine to create a cohesive on-screen dynamic, but they are still able to command attention in their own ways.

Presently, Story Ave is a limited-release film, only available in select cities in the U.S. Its exceptional cast spanning different generations makes it a must-see for all ages.

Aristotle Torres takes his debut by storm with the help of a fantastic cast and crew. As a young auteur, his technique and touch are undeniable, and he’s definitely a name to watch closely in the coming years.

If you have the chance to catch it in theaters, trust us, you won’t regret it.