Lightly observant and full of street credibility, Stephen Townsend's "The Kingston High" has the marks of a filmmaker shooting what he knows. Having been made on the ultra-cheap adds to modest charms of pic about a bright high school comicbook artist cajoled into losing his virginity.

Lightly observant and full of street credibility, Stephen Townsend’s “The Kingston High” has the marks of a filmmaker shooting what he knows. Having been made on the ultra-cheap adds to modest charms of pic about a bright high school comicbook artist cajoled into losing his virginity. And while one might wish the comic art had been interpolated into what’s basically a series of talky two-shots, Townsend’s real strength is maintaining a genial mood among the engaging members of his young ensemble, led by the likable Jeramie Gladman. Low-grade production quality precludes tube play, but pic deserves the eyes of fest programmers.

His pals want Sketch (Gladman) to get laid on prom night, but it’s an effort, since Sketch wants to either smoke pot or draw. Sketch is attracted to hottie Trina (Nicole Pulliam), while ignoring the signals from nice girl Marcy (Chastity Dotson). Funny banter, delivered by thesps clearly enjoying themselves, helps pic past several awkward plot points. Sketh’s brainy nature and the multiracial makeup of his pals help pic comment on high school racial politics, while avoiding the usual gang-banging cliches.

The Kingston High

Production

A DMP production. Produced by Mary E. Glynn. Executive producer, Stephen Townsend. Directed, written by Stephen Townsend.

Crew

Camera (color, video color), Los; editor, Jennifer Viola; music, James McKeever; music supervisor, Ken "Kaz'' Smith; production designer, Judy Crozier; costume designers, Stephanie McCoy, Yvette McNally, Lauren Millstein. Reviewed at Pan African Festival (competing), L.A., Feb. 9, 2002. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Jeramie Gladman, Nicole Pulliam, Chason Bridgman, Chauncey, Chastity Dotson, La Monica Peters, Keely Watson, David Raibon.
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