Artist: Film ReviewTitle: Bastards Of The Party (Film)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba
Rare is a documentary made by someone it is actually aboutthe biggest exception being celebrity sex tapes, of course. It is a whole other matter if the film is any good at all, and in fact, documentaries frequently fall short of the uncensored truth they are supposed to “document” because they are filtered through a filmmaker’s lens anyway.
Fortunately, it’s not the case with Bastards of the Party, an HBO film by Cle “Bone” Sloan, a member of the Athens Park Bloods gang since his teens who has fortunately for himcarved a niche in Hollywood. Although Sloan got a helping hand on the film from Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day (in which Sloan made his acting debut), the film is captivating in its perspective and breadth with Sloan front and center.
“It’s a big part of my life…too much of my life, basically,” Sloan says deliberately as the film opens, his trademark do-rag-under-baseball hat look on display. What he is talking about becomes abundantly clear as timeworn photographs of young Black men clad in red flash across the screen.
The story of the Bloods is closely connected to that of their main rivals, the Crips, and although Sloan is an inactive Blood, he doesnt play favorites. In fact, it’s unification that he is desperately after, asking rhetorically “How did we get to this point?” right before a pre-Civil War poster with block letter that say “Negroes for Sale” flashes across the screen, signaling a change in the timeline. Such contrasts occur throughout the film, adding to the poignant cinematography provided by Fuqua that captures the hopelessly bleek expressions of tough-talking Bloods and Crips. With Sloan serving as the narrator, about a third of the film uses archival footage to tell a history of the first African-Americans to arrive to Los Angeles’ Central Avenue in the 1940s, the Civil Rights movement that ensues, and finally, how the Black Panthers gave way to the rise of the gangs.
“It’s like you can’t be a leader for the Black community if you’re alive,” Sloan exclaims at one point, in that very instant capturing the mind frame of young black males growing up in the post-Civil Rights movement who turn to gangs. Ultimately, it’s these realizations along Sloan’s journey of self-discovery, combined with historical information and an expert filmmaker’s touch that makes Bastards of the Party a must-see film.