A lost treasure of 1990s DIY filmmaking, Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso embeds an incisive look at racial injustice within a lovingly handmade buddy movie/murder mystery/romance.
Alarmed by the rate at which the young Black men around her are dying—indeed, “becoming extinct,” as she sees it—brash Oakland art student Pica (Toby Smith) attempts to preserve their existence in Polaroid snapshots, along the way forging a friendship with a woman in an abusive relationship (April Barnett), experiencing love and loss, and being drawn into the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city.
Capturing the vibrant community spirit of Oakland in the nineties, Smith crafts both a rare cinematic celebration of Black female creativity and a moving elegy for a generation of lost African American men.
4K restoration undertaken by the Criterion Collection, Janus Films, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Supervised by director Cauleen Smith.
“It’s not a mystery why this quiet wonder was lost in the Black cinema boom of the 1990s. The movie is rough-hewn as an artistic choice but also out of financial necessity; its D.I.Y. aesthetic mirrors the found scrap Pica uses to make meaningful memorials. But with its themes of Black endangerment (for both males and females) and its nuzzling of many genres (horror, romance, buddy flick), DRYLONGSO returns to us utterly, subtly, chidingly prescient.” Lisa Kennedy. A New York Times Critic's Pick!