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USA, 2008, 100 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: African-American, Documentary, Social Issues
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: Sean Baker
Producer: Darren Dean, (executive) Cre FilmEditor: Sean BakerScreenwriter: Sean Baker, Darren DeanCinematographer: Sean BakerPrincipal Cast: Prince Adu, Karren Karagulian, Aiden Noesi
Set on the gritty streets of New York City’s wholesale fashion district, Prince of Broadway interweaves the tales of two immigrants seeking their own versions of the American dream. Levon (Karren Karagulian) is an Armenian-Lebanese shopkeeper in love with a much-younger wife who’d rather go clubbing with friends than go home. He shares an amiable companionship with Lucky, an illegal immigrant from Ghana—convincingly acted by Prince Adu—who hustles knockoff merchandise from the backroom of Levon’s store. Lucky is single and lives as he likes, though not impractically: He’s putting money aside for school.
Still, Lucky’s footloose ways come to a halt when a former girlfriend shows up with a toddler she insists is his and demands that he do the caretaking for a couple of weeks while she attends to some business matters. The boy is a charmer as played by Aiden Noesi (who nearly steals the show), and, with Levon’s help, the initially begrudging Lucky begins to step up to the challenge of parenthood.
Writer-director Sean Baker—cocreator of the cult sitcom Greg the Bunny—worked with a cast of unknowns to create a script from improvised dialogue as per Mike Leigh, shooting with a handheld camera to capture the kinetic energy of the urban setting. And his keen sense of the immigrant experience likewise keeps the narrative hustling, garnering him the award for best dramatic feature at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival.
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