From Gangs to Gardens

Filmmaker Q&A with Director JLove Calderon

What motivated you to make this film?

As a white woman fighting for racial justice I am always looking for ways to shift the dominate narrative around African American boys and men, specifically, as well as African American girls and women, and communities of color overall. I believe one way we can impact change is by changing perceptions of African American boys and men. As well, I care deeply about culture, food, justice, creativity and innovation. So it was the combination of all those elements, and the incredibly gifted amazing artist ietef that compelled me to create a short film focused on the incredible work he is doing on health, well-being, and food justice through Hip-Hop culture.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

The obstacles are the usual ones, finding the resources to be able to make the film, and then the time to make it happen. Also finding the right team to help was a bit of a challenge (I was shooting in Denver so I didn’t know the community as well). In terms of distribution I feel very blessed that the film resonated with a couple of amazing companies like SIMA and so that worked out perfectly for me!


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

I want audiences to be inspired to take their health and well-being into their own self-determined hands! Take back the land, take back control of growing your own food, and take back the knowledge of the most basic right we all have…..healthy, nutritious food! In addition I hope that audiences see the power of Hip-Hop culture and how we can use culture to impact positive change in our communities. Finally, I want them to take the message up and share it with people and communities who may not have access to the information presented in the film.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

What is food justice? What are food deserts? What is food insecurity? How does the issues of food impact communities differently in regard to race and class? What are the biggest food issues facing us today and what are solutions that people can think of to change those issues?


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

See the Social Action Toolkit!


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

See the Social Action Toolkit to get involved in organizing and taking action for food justice!



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