Slippin’: Ten Years with the Bloods
Director: Joachim Schroeder, Tommy Sowards
Survivorman Les Stroud and bedandbreakfastman Bear Grylls have got nothing on directors Joachim Schroeder and Tommy Soward. Hmm, let’s see, what’s more impressive: surviving a few days among sticks and bugs or surviving a few years among Crips and Bloods? To paraphrase Billy Madison, Crips and Bloods. Crips – and – Bloods, in perfect cursive. Any more brain busters?
In Slippin’: Ten Years with the Bloods, directors Joachim Schroeder and Tommy Sowards did just that. Strapped with a fully-loaded 35mm, Schroeder and Sowards hit the streets shooting and followed a group of teenagers from the Rollin’ 20s Bloods from 1993 to 2003, documenting the anger, frustration, aggression, loss and inevitabilities of life in some of the roughest neighborhoods of L.A.. The film centers primarily around a handful of the gang members, Low Down, Dig Dug, Jumbo, C.K. (Crip Killa) and K.K. (Krazy Killa) who let the filmmakers into the inner sanctum of their lives and offer their own observations, insights and guidance along the way.
The result is a safely removed glimpse into a dangerous world that many may have only considered before in terms of glorifying rap lyrics and impersonal news stories. A glimpse that illuminates some of the darkest corners of life on the street, including an interesting primer in the translation of gang signs and graffiti tags. A glimpse that offers first-hand footage and accounts of drug deals, break-ins, assaults, vandalism and murder that makes you wonder how the filmmakers avoided a year’s worth of witness subpoenas in at least half a dozen cases. And, perhaps most importantly, a reminder that opportunity and personal decision making may exist independently in the minds of those who look to scapegoat the responsibility for their own lives or to placate their own conscience about the bleak situation of others’, but the reality is that they are almost always interdependent at the moment of truth.
An attentive eye to the editing would seem to indicate that Schroeder and Sowards probably did not actually spend the duration of ten years documenting these lives, but rather just spent some time with them in 1993 and then just returned to follow up with them ten years later. The timeline in between is filled in with initial footage, interviews and the clearly-scripted-for-him narration of Low Down. Still, this minor slight of hand does not take away from the interesting and divergent stories of wasted talent, continuing struggle, and an unlikely redemption, that finally attaches some real human faces to the stories of a world that has too often been told only with bikinis, bling and catchy beats.