The Cinematic Poetry of Sundance Winner Kahlil Joseph Heads to MoCA


Haunting, dreamlike, lyrical—the adjectives for 33-year-old director Kahlil Joseph’s style are familiar, but his vision isn’t. He earned Sundance’s Short Film Special Jury Prize in 2013 for Until the Quiet Comes, in which the spirit of a murdered young man at South L.A.’s Nickerson Gardens housing project gyrates to the music of Flying Lotus as he drifts toward the lowrider that may or may not take him into the afterlife. Joseph’s latest, the 14-minute short m.A.A.d, showing as a two-screen projection at MOCA Grand Avenue and opening March 21, is set to the music of rapper Kendrick Lamar and offers a filmic love letter to Compton. Interweaving footage of amateur actors from the community with home videos from Lamar’s youth, the result is an affecting neighborhood portrait that elides documentary and fiction. “The black experience is one of the richest gifts I can possibly imagine for the human spirit,” says Joseph. “That’s what attracted me.”