Having toiled in the narcotics trade since adolescence, Toronto’s Akilla Brown (poet-singer Saul Williams) now sees his way of life slowly slipping away. Just as he’s sensing that now might be an ideal time to retire from the game, a garden variety drug deal goes completely off the rails when heavily armed thieves crash the scene. Charged with retrieving the lost merchandise, Akilla likewise finds himself playing guardian to Sheppard (Thamela Mpumlwana), a young gunman who’s been recruited into the same multinational crime ring that indoctrinated Akilla years earlier.

When Charles Officer visited VIFF in 2017, he took home the award for Best Canadian Documentary for Unarmed Verses, a testament to communal resilience and self-expression. While ostensibly a crime drama, Officer’s latest is informed by the same attention to socioeconomic concerns and striking depictions of individuals struggling to define themselves in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. Taking its cues from Williams’ sublime performance, as well as the score he’s composed with Massive Attack’s 3D, this is a sombre and soulful neo-noir.


Includes an interview with Director: Charles Officer, Actor: Thamela Mpumlwana

Director Icon Director
Charles Officer

Saul Williams, Thamela Mpumlwana, Donisha Prendergast, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Olunike Adeliyi, Shomari Downer
Executive Producer Martin F. Katz, Karen Wookey, Michael A Levine, Reservoir
Producer Jake Yanowski, Charles Officer
Screenwriter Charles Officer, Motion
Cinematographer Maya Bankovic
Editor Andres Landau
Production Design Diana Abbatangelo
Music Saul Williams with 3D
Production Company Canesugar Filmworks, Prospero Pictures, Generic Productions
Source Canesugar
Canada 2020 90 min. English
Media Partners


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Officer, Charles headshot


Charles Officer is a former professional hockey player, Charles studied design at Ontario College of Art and worked as a creative director for major design and advertising agencies. He studied theatre in New York and was a director resident at the Canadian Film Centre where his debut fiction feature Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008) was produced. Officer has directed for multiple TV series including Coroner, Ransom, and Private Eyes, alongside several acclaimed documentary features such as Mighty Jerome and VIFF-award winner Unarmed Verses.

Selected Filmography
Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008); Mighty Jerome (2011); Unarmed Verses (2017)