Australian Filmmaker Turns His Lens On Liberty City, Finds Some Crazy Characters

Categories: Media Watch
via YouTube
An Interview from "Liberty City: Miami -- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

A word of advice to foreign filmmakers who get hooked on Liberty City: Please stop opening your masterpieces with chintzy B-rolls of tourists frolicking on South Beach and then cutting away to bleak footage of a morbid roadside memorial or homeless people. It's hackneyed, dammit! 

Hopefully, Shanks Rajendran takes heed when he recuts his four-part YouTube documentary called "Liberty City: Miami ― the Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Because aside from the ubiquitous beyond Miami's glitzy white sandy beaches is a grimy black underworld intro, the 26-year-old Australian filmmaker has actually found a wonderful cast of lifetime Liberty City denizens willing to share their tales on film.

Rajendran, who goes by the nomme de Internet "Gorilla Shanks," tells Riptide he shot the footage over three weeks in November after becoming fascinated with Miami's less privileged neighborhoods.

"I remember being told by a taxi driver that he would never drive to Liberty City," Rajendran recalls. "Other Miami residents said, 'Stay away from Liberty City.' That appealed to me as a filmmaker."

There's no question Rajendran has a knack for spinning gritty urban tales from real characters. Take Will Kilm, an aspiring 20-something rapper who acts as a neighborhood guide through most of the documentary. Kilm first enters the frame after a quick shot of a boarded-up three-story apartment building on NW 71st Street at 15th Avenue, where he says he once peddled crack.

Kilm's most gripping tale might be of a crime the night before Valentine's Day. "I ain't gonna lie to ya," he says, looking at the camera. "I am coked up. I am peaked up... It's 2, 3 in the morning when I hear a ruckus." He looked out the window to see a man standing over another. "I hear dude say, 'Please don't kill me,'  Kilm chillingly relays. "When I looked, I seen dude shoot the other dude four times -- killed the man at point-blank range."

Rajendran's movie also takes viewers on a tour of landmarks such as the Liberty City Flea Market, the remnants of the James E. Scott projects, and the shuttered Hampton House, the hotel where some of the most famous African-American entertainers stayed during the segregation era.

The Aussie director says he plans to recut the film for a DVD using unreleased footage. In the meantime, check out YouTube for a unique take on Miami's realest neighborhood.

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10 comments
Shannon Rodriguez
Shannon Rodriguez

I've been to Liberty City many times. There's a great sense of community there & most of the people mind their own business. No one bothered me & I'm a white girl. Some of the conditions there are bad though...the elementary school I went into was like the school the school board forgot: falling apart, dirty, roaches & maggots...no wonder it's hard to get out of that neighborhood; I wouldn't care about my education either if my school was like that...

Shannon Rodriguez
Shannon Rodriguez

I've been to Liberty City many times. There's a great sense of community there & most of the people mind their own business. No one bothered me & I'm a white girl. Some of the conditions there are bad though...the elementary school I went into was like the school the school board forgot: falling apart, dirty, roaches & maggots...no wonder it's hard to get out of that neighborhood; I wouldn't care about my education either if my school was like that...

Ğorilla Shänks
Ğorilla Shänks

The starting sequence is essential, showing contrast between South beach and Liberty City.

Kzm Ufc
Kzm Ufc

Oh, shit!!! Steven Spieldberg givin' film instruction up in this beaaatch!! ROFL

Johnny
Johnny

Just a bunch of deadbeat losers who think they are cool. So sad, but they make their own life. No one to blame but themselves.

Lee Guerra Phantascy
Lee Guerra Phantascy

i fucking hate how miami think's its just the beach life. hialeah , liberty, each city is like a complete different country in my perspective. as soon as i cross to miami lakes i feel like im in america lmao

Street Art
Street Art

There is more to Miami than Liberty City and Glitzy Beaches LOL

Adnarim Ed Yelsek
Adnarim Ed Yelsek

I enjoyed this doc. It makes me a little less scared of the neighborhood. These people are human, like you and me, and I think it's not the right way to go to grow up with this fear.

Rachel Penabella
Rachel Penabella

Down under done discovered our most treasured parts. Now he means to exploit them? Seriously, dawg? What's with the gripe..Aussie?

xsillystarx
xsillystarx

@Lee Guerra Phantascy I am from Hialeah and I know exactly what you mean. Each city has a different culture. You go to Miami Springs and you find a bunch of white people. Go to Little Havana and you find a bunch of Cubans just like in Hialeah.

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