The great Harlem poet Langston Hughes once asked the eternal question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” To some, it can shrink, like a raisin in the sun, or it can explode.
This is the main idea for the film “Stride” by 24-year-old Alazar Aklilu.
The short film tells the tale of Mac, a high school varsity runner who must alter his life plans due to a hereditary medical condition — sickle cell anemia. With the support of his family and a gift of a camera, Mac’s life changes forever.
To gain more insight into the film, I interviewed Aklilu, the writer/director/producer of the film, to get a deeper understanding of the film.
“African Americans are the highest population affected by [sickle cell anemia],” said Aklilu.
Much like his character, Aklilu was diagnosed with afflictions H. Pylori, a disease usually diagnosed in childhood and occurring when bacteria infect the stomach, and iron deficiency anemia.
“One of my responsibilities as an artist, as a filmmaker is to champion causes,” he said.
Alazar was able to assemble his team through alumni networking and a group of his friends which gave him so much passion to work with people who he knew and also to teach them about sickle cell anemia.
This film is not only very personal to the director, but also his first film in charge.
“This is my first real project outside of college,” he said.
Regardless of your conditions and whatever happens in your life, there will always be a path forward, even if it isn’t the one you may expect.
“Stride” is currently in production and will be tentatively released in Spring 2023.