A TINY RIPPLE OF HOPE: Directed by Jason Polevoi
Jahmal Cole is the confident and charismatic leader of My Block, My Hood, My City: an organization that brings hope and opportunity to teenagers across Chicago's segregated South and West Sides. Away from the spotlight of his important work though, Jahmal is in the fight of his life as he battles to keep his home out of foreclosure, his marriage alive, and himself out of harm's way. A Tiny Ripple of Hope follows a formative year for Jahmal as he struggles with everything he must sacrifice so that the people and the city he loves can prosper.
During speeches, Jahmal Cole is fond of asking, “What’s something simple I can do that will have a positive impact on my block?” The goal of this film began as a way to amplify that question. I believe that block level, neighbor-to-neighbor relationship-building holds the key to real, positive change in Chicago. Instead of looking to state-wide or national lawmakers to enact policy that would have a positive impact on our communities- we should take that responsibility into our own hands. That sentiment is at the heart of Jahmal’s activism.
A Tiny Ripple of Hope is a beautiful film that is directed by Jason Polevoi. This project has been in the works for around four years. The documentary is focused and follows a very specific person, Jahmal Cole and those around him. This is honestly a very inspiring story that carries a very heartfelt message. This documentary really spotlights his organization, My Block My Hood My City, and the work that he does within it, but also shows an inside look at his own life. The storytelling in this is phenomenal and brings the audience on a journey to learn. more about what Jahmal does on a daily basis and the impact he has on the kids, the community and even the world. We see that a person like Jahmal can make waves and "ripples" that spread far and wide into the world. The kind that make real change. Change that is desperately needed in the world in my opinion.
The organization is called My Block My Hood My City. A Tiny Ripple of Hope explores this by showing us each perspective. We see the influence a block has on a person's life. We explore the surroundings around the neighborhood. The way the streets look, how schools are run and even the daily life. The audience also gets insight on the diversity Chicago as a city has. There is so much character in Chicago and I think it's illustrated perfectly. Each area serves as a whole and should be explored as such. We get a nice inside look at the crime around the city, the housing situation and even how the entire environment is kept. Jahmal speaks upon these subjects and also articulates the importance that the young kids need to explore more than just that. We see them go on field trips and explore the city and get new and different exposures to cultures and perspectives. This movie perfectly teaches us the importance of this lesson, by having several great speeches in it. Especially a speech about how things that are not ordinary such as ordering food through a bulletproof window is normalized. Being exposed to such things can have a lasting effect on a person and feeling that it is a normal thing in life.
Jahmal is seen as a mentor, organizer and leader in all the sense of these words. One of the main slogans they have on their website for their organization is "Taking care of people, no matter what." We see Jahmal really live by this quote. He is a true hero and has touched many people's lives in the work that he does. Jason Polevoi directed this film in a way that really puts the stage-light on his life. Although we see him as a hero figure, we also see him as a regular human like the rest of us and see that his life has flaws aswell. We see the many situations Jahmal gets in and what he has to deal with, in his own personal life. He shares the organizations values to a core which often leads him to self sacrifice himself. He truly believes in interconnectivity, empathy, hope and civic responsibility. We see him struggle and risk his own happiness, house and even his marriage. The emotion continues to pour out of the screen and the film keeps everything grounded and genuine. We get a inside look that he too gets depressed, but still pushes on. This is a great message to never give up no matter what.
This is a documentary that really got my attention from Slamdance Film Festival. I think this is a very special documentary that talks about a very important topic. It really highlights that anyone can make an impact big or small. There are many people like Jahmal out there in the world making a difference, which is amazing. Imagine if everyone had that same values that he shares. The world would be a better place if everyone decided to make even the smallest difference. It can all start within our own communities and that would be the start of a change. Please make sure to check this one out. Slamdance Film Festival is going on until February 25th.
If you are interested in helping out Jahmal's organization please click the link!
I also had to pleasure to talk to the director of the film and it was a great conversation. Make sure to check it out!