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
Miller notes the average audience have a difficult time imagining a world like the character John’s, where a 15-year-old could walk down the street and buy a gun for $200. True to his political activist days, he remains unapologetic in his decision not to add subtitle to his film.
“Some people complain to me that they don’t understand what the characters are saying,” Miller says. ”But my feeling is that maybe it’s not their problem that you can’t understand. It’s your problem — listen better.