“Sketch,” written and directed by Stephen T. Barton, is set to screen tonight, Saturday, March 5, 2016 at the historical Chicago Cultural Center as a part of the Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF). This short 21 minute film tells the story of Michael, a young boy in an impoverished area of New York City, who not only has a negligent mother and is bullied at school, he is “cursed” with being on the autism spectrum. Sound is not his friend, but visually, this boy is remarkably talented. Michael captures the details of his violent community with just a pencil and paper in beautiful detail to help a detective solve a crime.
“Sketch” tackles many “hot topics” as Barton calls them, from human trafficking, lack of special services in the school system, and bullying to gun violence and unfit parenting . This slice of life in the world most of us tend to ignore, is shockingly violent, but also allows us to appreciate the differences in others and what they have to offer. The message of how one looks at a “curse” and uses our “blessings” is creatively foreshadowed by a character we usually pass by without a second look—a homeless man. Michael’s life is changed with this message and using his talents, he makes a significant positive impact on the lives around him.
Kwesi Boakye’s performance as Michael is “soulful” as Barton describes it. I am in complete agreement as this boy captures the essence of a troubled youngster in a dire situation who is also struggling with autism. His portrayal allows us inside his world to give us a greater ability to empathize with not just him, but others who may be struggling. Kwesi’s character says not a word, but conveys deeply complex concepts with his actions and expressions. He is truly a remarkable young actor.
“Sketch” is one of the most beautifully powerful stories to hit the screen for a mere 21 minutes. It makes you think, understand, and perhaps even perceive the world around you a little differently. And I must add, it’s also wonderfully entertaining! Don’t miss this film if you’re in the Chicago area tonight.
For more information about the POEFF, go to peaceonearthfilmfestival.org
Listen to my interview with Barton on The Reel Focus
His artistic skills allow this tortured young boy to make a significant impact on the lives around him.