Imperial Dreams: Hope From the Chaos

Imperial Dreams: Hope From the Chaos

October 5, 2015 | Malik Vitthal, Director - 2015 MJS Winner

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45-caliber flesh wounds, high-speed chases, decade-long jail sentences, and young lives cut far short: in the process of creating our feature film Imperial Dreams, I have witnessed all of these. Yet I have also borne witness to self-discovery and redemption.

45-caliber flesh wounds, high-speed chases, decade-long jail sentences, and young lives cut far short: in the process of creating our feature film Imperial Dreams, I have witnessed all of these. Yet I have also borne witness to self-discovery and redemption.

The real-life struggles of the young men from South Central Los Angeles who inspired this story represent the psychological and socioeconomic realities that so many people of color must confront in present-day inner-city America. It is a populace hardened from exposure to a culture of violence and fear (the circumstances at hand). Yet there persists a distinctly American belief in the promise of tomorrow, and always pulsing below the surface, there lies the distinctly human need to trust. This film is an intimate, visceral, authentic look into a broken home—which mirrors an entire generation—and how they patch it all back together.

At its heart, this is a simple family story about a young father trying to provide for and protect his 4-year-old son against all odds. And as tragic as this tale may seem, it is clear that our protagonist is bound and driven by the same hope and passion that lives within each of us. The gangster lifestyle has been deeply mythologized in global pop culture for its chaotic, violent, impulsive inclinations. Our intention, however, is to counter that by adding to the mix the nuances of the human condition that are also at play. Imperial Dreams is about learning to muster the resolve to establish your own identity and your own sphere of love, safety, and compassion, even when everything around you remains in chaos.

Malik Vitthal graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Vitthal was selected to represent the United States three times as a delegate at the World Youth Conference for Peace in India. Vitthal co-wrote and directed Imperial Dreams, his feature directorial debut, which was developed at the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and the Jerusalem International Film Lab.