An obvious labor of love and good will can often transcend its limitations, and “112th & Central: Through the Eyes of the Children” is just such a film. Several filmmakers and entertainers have guided Los Angeles inner-city youth through an explanatory journey into the geographical hub of last year’s riots. The 16mm specialized film is rough-hewn and its pacing is often slow, but it is worthy of the small, specialized audience it will undoubtedly receive. Unfortunately, as is true of most such films, the audience is likely to be comprised of inner-city denizens, who don’t need the education it provides. They live it.Film’s initial commercial engagement is ongoing at the Vista Theater in Hollywood. More document than documentary (and blessedly not a sociological treatise), this timely film is broken into sections exploring the relationship between South Central L.A. and the police, neighbors and families. The youngsters ask questions that appear naive, but are also refreshingly non-manipulative. Because the interview subjects are friends or colleagues, the interchanges often have a pleasant, discursive quality. Responses that could sound like platitudes do not, because they are obviously felt. One standout is a monologue delivered by a young man named “Jazzy,” who recounts being shot on the first night of the riots. He describes the mayhem with such simplicity and good humor that it is chilling, far more effective than any scripted version could have been. The film is not without its flaws. More judicious pacing and editing would have helped. But it might have interfered with the ingenuous approach of the young filmmakers, some of whom have infectious on-camera personalities and inner strength that no acting school could provide. Johnny Simmons’ photography is simple and unobtrusive and blends well with newsreel footage. Delfeayo Marsalis’ cool jazz score (yes, another talented Marsalis brother) is a standout.
A Flatfields Inc. presentation. Produced by Jim Chambers, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Hal Hisey. Executive producers, Stephon Barnatt, Cedric Broddie, David Harrell, Cleop has Jackson, Marzina Scott, Hector Soto, Violeta Soto, Darrell Straight, Lorenzo Straight, Nia Mydra Tiggs, Yolanda Woods, Gabriel Wright. Co-directed by Chambers.
Camera (Fujicolor) John Simmons; editor, Michael Schultz; music, Delfeayo Marsalis; sound, Veda Campbell. Reviewed at Universal Studios screening room, Universal City, April 14, 1993. No MPAA rating. Running time: 108 min.