On December 28, 1998 California teenager Tyisha Miller sat unconscious in her car when police officers opened fire. Earlier in the evening the young woman was driving around with friends when her car suffered a flat tire. After her friends convinced a stranger to take them to a place where they could get assistance, Miller decided to stay with the car. Locking the doors, with music playing and a gun on her lap for safety, she eventually passed out. When her friends returned and were unable to wake her, they decided to call the cops for help.

Unfortunately, as is all too familiar, the situation escalated quickly and unnecessarily and Miller became another statistic.

In his latest film My Name is Myeisha, director Gus Krieger wants to remind audiences that Miller and other victims of police brutality, who combine to make up the titular Myeisha (Rhaechyl Walker), are more than a number on a spreadsheet. They are individuals who had family and friends who loved them; they had the same aspirations that many of us have. Adapting Rickeeby Hinds’ stage play Dreamscape, Krueger constructs a bold, heartbreaking and endlessly fascinating hip-hop musical.

Giving a voice to the victims who can no longer speak for themselves, the film is a mesmerizing mix of drama, music, dreamlike atmosphere and biting social commentary. Constantly aware of itself and the audience, including those who frequently try to dismiss the severity of the issue rather than truly listen, is vibrant and unsettling.

Thanks to the star-making performance by Rhaechyl Walker, Myeisha never feels like a stereotype. She is a fully realized person whose life is just as intriguing as the circumstances surrounding her death. The emphasis on how she lived makes her senseless death even more tragic.

Screens:
Friday, June 8, 9:30 PM, The Royal Cinema

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