A local filmmaker has created a documentary that has some people in the area saying it’s an unfair depiction of their community.
That filmmaker is Harvard senior Damilare Sonoiki.
The movie is called The West.
It’s a gritty look at life in the Alief area.
The documentary shows there is a thriving gang population with lots of violence in the small area just west of Houston.
Here at FOX 26 we received emails from people saying the documentary makes Alief look bad.
While others who are familiar with the area say Sonoiki’s documentary is a fair depiction of what’s happening.
I got a response from the filmmaker who sent me this email:
Thanks for reaching out.
You said that some people felt that the documentary painted a darker
picture of Alief than it really is, and others felt that the documentary was completely accurate. I think both groups are right.
For some people, that is their reality–guns, gangs, etc. And for
others, that isn’t their reality.
I tried to make it clear that this
wouldn’t be that balanced or holistic a depiction of the area with this disclaimer:
“Despite the focus of this film, southwest Houston is not a bad area,
and Alief is not a bad neighborhood. The vast majority of residents
are good, kind, hardworking people–the kind who make a neighborhood
special. This film is dedicated to them.”
However, I understand if that was not enough. The film focused on the
gangs / cliques and the streets for a few reasons.
Part of it was resources–the people I knew and the people who wanted to talk about Alief happened to be people who were involved in those things. Some of
the reasons are personal. I go to college out of state, and whenever I
come home, there’s always bad news–a former classmate or childhood
friend arrested for murder or dead. I thought it would be helpful to
document the causes of this violence and incarceration. And if not
document the causes, then at least document what was occurring–not
glorify it or promote it, but simply show that it was going on, try to
explore why it was going on, and try to highlight some solutions.
If you watch the whole thing, you’ll see that the message as a whole
is positive, not negative.