Filmmaker Shayla Racquel has decided to spotlight a recently re-surfaced debate that has some African-American families at odds. Is there a right or wrong way to fight against injustice, or is it just a matter of opinion? Should Black Lives Matter shadow the strategy of the Civil Rights Movement activists? Shayla’s upcoming short film Riverment attempts to answer these questions.

The fictional film follows the relationship of a grandmother and granddaughter who are both passionate about civil rights, but differ in approach. “The film creates a huge dialogue between the two generations and uses the movement as its spine”, says Shayla. But beyond the plot, and through concluding arguments from both points of view the film aims to create solidarity resulting in a more forceful movement.


The inspiration to place this conversation on film derived from the filmmaker’s grandmother. After protests ignited by the killing of Mike Brown in 2014, Shayla said her grandmother turned a side eye, leaving Shayla unsettled. “She turned the television off and became dismissive, which made me angry.” After digging deeper, Shayla discovered that her grandmother disagreed with the current generation’s idea of protest. To provide context, Shayla describes her grandparents as “racially aware” and credits them for teaching her the importance of black history.

The marriage of the two words River and Movement provides symbolism of a necessary constant flow.

So, the notion that her grandmother would be unsupportive of the current movement peaked Shayla’s interest in addressing the generational differences. “It made me want to compare and contrast the two very different generations and their approaches to a continuous fight,” says Shayla.

Similar to the film, the title Riverment has rooted meaning. “Just like the waters of a river, movements never stop moving,” is a beloved line from the short film. The marriage of the two words River and Movement provides symbolism of a necessary constant flow. Any movement seeking to make a difference, requires consistency, a key element to demolishing barriers. Riverment’s poster art and teaser all display elements of water and is a theme that is expected to continue throughout production.

One of Shayla’s greatest hopes for the films audience is that viewers will dismiss the belief that street protesting is the only method of activism. “There is no one way to be involved. There are different ways to be an activist. Protesting is not the only way,” proclaims Shayla. As long as there is a desire for change and knowledge to understand how to help, the filmmaker believes that activism can be accomplished in any place.


Shayla Racquel is currently an American University graduate student and will complete Riverment as a thesis requirement. Upon completion, she will receive her Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Electronic Media.

Riverment is scheduled to begin filming in September 2016 with a release date of December 2016.

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