TIFF 2020: “Akilla`s Escape”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

When, normally, we leave our homeland for a better place, our main intention is to ensure a brighter future for our children. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the same path. Some, who were notorious gang members, find a way into a new country. But instead of integrating into their new life and community, done choose to bring violence with them.

Akilla Brown is a little boy who, with his father, Clifton, and his mother, leave Jamaica behind. As they land in New York, seemingly an excellent environment is set for them to begin from scratch. However, the violent nature of his father – murderous intentions towards anyone who won’t obey him, drags the little boy into the same swamp of blood and social injustice that will make him realize wherever he goes, the past and what is meant for him to become will lead him until his last breath.

The film starts with the young Akilla in an interrogation room where he is questioned by an officer in relation to his father. We don’t know what’s happened yet but we can assume. Then, we are taken to Toronto in 2020, where an already grown up Akilla is working for the Greeks. While he has not chosen a dignified path for his future, he has the morals and integrity that were not buried down by an angry boy. When the place he looked after was robbed by another group of gangsters, Akilla manages to survive. But when the man in the mask was knocked down by Akilla, he sees behind the same mask just another version of the scared boy he himself was once.

The story written and directed by Charles Officer, “Akilla’s Escape” offers an in-depth look into one man’s life, his struggles, a violent father, and his was of surviving life. Indeed Akilla, same as every other child moving into a new country, is a victim of social injustice and the choices made by parents. Akilla is a nice and honourable young boy. But when his father begins to transform him into a version of himself, Akilla loses his innocence to adjust to the new reality.

That said, “Akilla’s Escape” is a solid drama about morals, trustworthiness and manhood. It captures the life of a boy who realizes that there is no escape for him. All what he has to do is to remain a human being and not lose empathy at the most crucial moment when it’s needed most.

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