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Cinetopia has now been over for almost a week and I’m not quite done singing praises for this film festival. While I love the insightful films that evoke awe and sometimes disgust, it’s the passion that transfers from the screen to the audience that I enjoy watching the most. Plights you may not have even known about before walking in to the theatre suddenly plague your thoughts…or maybe that’s just me. That’s the power of film. Regardless, this immediate fervor is only intensified when Cinetopia brings out the cast and crew to conduct interviews following the film, as they did with the film DESTINED, starring Cory Hardict, written and directed by Qasim Basir.
Destined (2016) follows two different versions of the character, Rasheed (Cory Hardict); one version in which he is an architect on the fast track to obtaining a major contract, and the other in which he is the head of a drug empire. Hardict does a phenomenal job as he shows both versions and the stories intertwine and dance around one another. The entirety of this film is framed around a singular moment during Rasheed’s childhood, the outcome of which produces two polarizing lives.
Destined takes place and was shot here in Detroit (none of that filmed in Los Angeles with Detroit aerial shots). With themes surrounding selling drugs, gentrification, addiction, privilege, police harassment, and the notion of choice, this film does a fantastic job of expecting a lot of the viewer and not softening the impact of Rasheed’s choices.
While the plot was ambitious and the acting was strong, I wasn’t entirely enraptured with the stories and the how they were told. Sometimes it was difficult to understand motives, which some may enjoy as the stories weren’t really formulaic. The rhythm of the film is entirely its own. Rasheed in the professional world struggles as it’s revealed that the project he is being offered to lead involves purchasing the projects where his mother lives, tearing them down, and rebuilding some fancy high rises. You can find the effects of gentrification effects everywhere from London, UK to Vancouver, Canada. It’s not indigenous to just the United States, unfortunately. Showing Rasheed’s relations to the neighborhood being gentrified and his involvement in it, was a take I’ve not yet seen on screen and rather enjoyed.
The Rasheed who works as a drug lord is a scenario we’ve seen play out on screen many times before but Hardict’s performance was no less captivating. Basir said of the mutli-dimensional, Rasheed, “When you’re on the street, the lady’s scared of you and you have to say ‘no, I’m okay’ and you go through life and say ‘wait a minute, who am I and why are these people afraid of me? I’m not a criminal’, you know? I guess I look threatening. I guess the cop has to have his hand on his gun when he’s pulling me over for a speeding ticket…I guess. So this guy represents all of these faces we have to put on and how quickly one thing can change that. A lot of times something happens, you’re in the system, and that’s a wrap. You’re 12 years old and you make a mistake like all kids do, but you’re in the system now. You go to juvi…you go to prison and all of the sudden you have a record and you can’t get a job, so the cycle continues. And it can go the other way easily. So Cory brilliantly represents all of the faces we put on.”

Destined is streaming now on the following services:
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