by Scott Essman
For his film, “Gun Hill Road,” concerning a recently paroled father returning to a family undergoing a transformation with regards to his teenaged son, director Rashaad Ernesto Green decided to revisit his roots in the New York City borough of the Bronx. In this exclusive interview, he describes the reasons behind his choices to shoot this non-traditional film in an environment widely known for its limited latitude for accepting alternative lifestyles. Starring Esai Morales, the film was shot in 20 days in the Bronx with an additional day in Manhattan and one on Long Island.
Why shoot this film in the Bronx?
Rashaad Ernesto Green: I was born in the Bronx and have roots there. I thought it was a very important aspect of the story to understand the environment and how it shapes the mentality of the characters in it. It’s also the part of New York that is not represented as well as it could be on film. The Bronx that I’ve seen portrayed in many films travels from one stereotype to the next with drug dealers and gangsters. We don’t often see into the depths of our families.
The Bronx that I’m used to is steeped in family and community. The father and child in the film are inspired by a family I know very well. It is always hard to accept change, and here is a guy who is a Bronx Latino male who has also been in and out of prison, making that acceptance even more difficult.