John Diaz (21) walks into the café with his usual swagger. The 6-foot-2, 150 pounds actor looks like Ichabod Crane – a lanky beanstalk but way better-looking. In Five Star, Diaz plays a young man who struggles with his identity – should he, like his deceased father, go down the path of gang life? The movie, which will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, blends fiction and reality. It is a coming-of-age story where Diaz discovers the meaning of manhood.
Born and raised in New York, Diaz lives with his mother and older sister in Lower East Side. He had not always wanted to be an actor. In middle school, his dream was to play for the Yankees. But after listening to Diana Ross’ daughter speaking about how fun it was to act, Diaz decided that he would become an actor. Because an actor gets to live a different life every time he walks on set. He took theater classes in high school and studied performance art at Nazareth College. He dropped out after eight credits. Six months after his return home, he was casted for Five Star.
Part Puerto Rican, part white and black, Diaz raps and models on the side. The young star shares what it was like working with Keith Miller for the past two years. Continue reading
James ‘Primo’ Grant (29), a general in the East New York Bloods, commands the room the moment he walks in the café. Wearing a leather-sleeved sweater with a red-eyed lion print, the burly, bearded man exudes solid strength. Speaking calmly, he points out the persons around us. See that guy? He’s into that girl. See how his knees turn toward her? A bouncer at Sugar Hill, a disco club in Brooklyn, Grant has predatory eyes like a hawk. He sees everything.
Primo shares a moment with his son, Sincere Grant. (Credit: Alex Mallis)
Grant is the star of Keith Miller’s newest feature film, Five Star. In it, he plays a leader of the Bloods. He is a father, husband, gang leader, friend and mentor. To John, a fatherless young man who is trying to decide if gang life is for him, Primo represents tough love. Mixing fiction and reality, the film is based closely on Grant’s real life. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he is the son of a Domnican mother and a Costa Rican father. He is the fourth of eight children, four sisters and three brothers. He joined the Bloods when he was 12 and is still active. The film touches upon issues like gang life, drugs and violence. However, it is more than your typical Hollywood gangster film. Instead, it highlights human struggle as both Primo and John wrestle with what it means – what choices one has to make – to be a man.
Grant lives in New Jersey with his fiancé and four children. Continue reading
Keith Miller’s newest feature film, Five Star, is one of the 12 films selected for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. The story, which looks into what it means to be a man, blurs the distinction between on- and off-screen reality. James ‘Primo‘ Grant (29), who joined the Bloods when he was 12, plays Primo, a five-star general in the East New York Bloods. His co-star John Diaz (21) plays John, a 15-year-old trying to decide if he should pursue gang life. After discovering how his father had died, John must make a choice – will he be his father, Primo or a man of his own? Based closely on elements of Grant’s life, the film is a coming-of-age story for both Primo and John.
With a background in abstract art, Miller compares his method of directing to the act of seeing through art. To him, his film is like American modernist artist Jasper John’s Flag (1955). The artwork, which consists of a painted flag that looks exactly like the American flag, raises the question: Is this a painting or is this a flag? Is this a representation or is this a flag?
“It looks like an American flag,” Miller says. “But it is not a printed flag, it is painted. In a symbolic way, there’s context, history, depth and texture to America.”
Read more about the film, published via Bedford & Bowery In Five Star, Keith Miller’s Leading Man is a General in the East New York Bloods
Read Q&A with James ‘Primo’ Grant
Read Q&A with John Diaz
Primo (left) and John (right) talk business on the court; James ‘Primo’ Grant (left) and John Diaz (right)
Image Credit: Nathan Fitch
There are two S’s: the stilyagi and the squares.
Like “Grease” (1978) and “Cry-Baby”(1990), “Hipster” (2008) falls into the category of teen musical where the good girl falls in love with the bad boy. In the case of this Russian retro-musical, however, it is the opposite. Here we have the good boy (Mels, a model student and Komsomol member) who falls in love the bad girl (Polya, a hipster).
The Russian word stilyagi translates to those who are obsessed with fashion, or “hipsters.”
In a city like New York, it appears that everyone is or borderline (or trying very hard) to be a hipster. But what does a modern-day hipster look like? Continue reading