Film Review: Cloud Zero

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Cloud Zero
Photo courtesy of Cloud Zero

We’re living in a moment where the public’s politics and concerns for current, life-threatening issues are more polarized than ever. From differing perspectives on access to healthcare and the state of climate change to police brutality and immigration policy, it’s difficult for individuals to not get radicalized in their beliefs and start advocating their worries. And with this generation having greater access to resources, younger activists are emerging and Lamin Leroy Gibba’s “Cloud Zero” acknowledges the nuances of those activist relationships. 

In the film, Cora (Victoria Tamez) is the new girl on the block when she joins a group of radicalized activists based in New York City. Although she hasn’t been involved in their organized operations long, Cora is eager to learn more about the politics of the group and pleads to be more involved despite showing no signs of being prepared to take on more responsibility. Tension amongst the varied relationships in the group form and their collective rage ends up working against each other. Reluctant to return back to a life of isolation, Cora is persistent in holding the group together even if she’s a source of their misfortunes. 

Cloud Zero
Cora (Victoria Tamez) and Gus (Jordan E. Cooper) in Cloud Zero. Photo courtesy of Cloud Zero.

“I don’t want to be reduced to just a place,” says Cora when asked where she’s from by Gus (Jordan E. Cooper) early on in the film. This quote is the perfect setup for the tone of the film as the audience receives no background on how the collective formed, nor do we understand the politics and core activist mission. It serves as being symbolic of how the film doesn’t want to be reduced to a single narrative based on political ideology, but the complexities surrounding relationships and individual desire within radical activist circles. 

Although it’s not much, the audience does receive hints of their politics throughout the film when images of war zones are depicted on screen, several of the characters allude to a power-abusive executive, and a photograph of a black woman surrounded by three white police officers is highlighted. 

Above all, there’s a quality to this film that proves to be authentic and immerses the audience to engage with the plot and develop their own assumptions about the storyline. “Cloud Zero” was shot in the span of a few weeks during the winter with a little-to-nothing budget, being made in an authentic Guerilla filmmaking manner. Audiences would be shocked to learn this as the cinematography for this film was well-thought out, from meticulous dinner scene shots to an overhead shot of a field in Long Island.

Gibba, who is the writer, director, and stars as Edgar in the film, took his limited budget and turned it into a high-quality production ready for any big screen. 

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The film is entirely made up of actors of color – including Renée Harrison, Victoria Tamez, Avon Haughton, Jordan E. Cooper, Arlyne Read Rodriguez, and Lamin Leroy Gibba. Although there is no official release date announced yet, the film is currently under consideration at multiple major film festivals. 

Cloud Zero
Jordan E. Cooper playing Gus in Cloud Zero. Photo courtesy of Cloud Zero