My Name Is Myeisha - North Bend Film Festival (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
A dazzling, raw, experiment which fuses together various artistic forms and styles to tell a powerful story of an innocent life cut tragically short.
This movie may zip and zag too often and make too many tonal shifts to keep some of its more patient and interested viewers engaged. You really must clear your mind and allow the film happen in order to wrap your head around how it tells its story.
My Name is Myeisha is a stunning film - one that defies categorization and yet feels ripped from the headlines. Based on the tragic story of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller, who had fallen unconscious in a car at a gas station, with a pistol on her lap, only to have police officers unload 23 shots into the car when they claim she came to and acted in self-defense.
The police had been told during a 9-1-1 call from Miller’s friends that she had a gun visible on her lap. Miller’s friends claim she never moved and toxicology reports would show she had passed out from a reaction to the drug GHB. Though placed on leave, authorities found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on behalf of the officers and, though the four responding officers were not returned to the police force, they received all compensation from their suspension and were not prosecuted.
Director Gus Krieger tells this story through the fictionalization of Myeisha (Rhaechyl Walker), and events are largely the same. When Myeisha falls unconscious, the film pivots out of a conventional tale to something unlike anything you have seen before.
Walker’s performance is astonishing. She raps, sings, dances, acts, and recites poetry and monologues to the camera, breaking the fourth wall consistently, but also providing us unique insight into who her character happens to be. She has something of a hype-man in the form of a medical examiner (John Merchant), who punctuates scenes with rap lyrics or informs through a recitation of the details of Miller’s autopsy report.
Adapted from the play Dreamscape, written by Rickerby Hinds, My Name is Myeisha feels like something you would see on stage, with a small ensemble playing multiple roles with minimalist settings and backdrops. Once you find the rhythm of the piece, which may be asking a lot of some viewers unaccustomed to films that deviate from mainstream comforts, Krieger’s film becomes rather intoxicating.
As we drift along and flashbacks co-mingle with fantasy sequences and the film dips and darts out of linear and non-linear storytelling, we seldom know just where the film is taking us. But Walker hooks us, her performance a fascinating tightrope walk of hyperbolic portrayal and lived-in, deep-rooted anguish. As Merchant appears in different roles, and the film maximizes every penny from its micro-size budget, we are reeling not only from the audacious presentation, but the surprising way in which the film wraps up its story.
Making the festival rounds, My Name is Myeisha has generated a lot of buzz for being unlike anything else out in the circuit. Here’s hoping the film lands a distributor, as all involved deserve to have a chance at finding as big as audience as possible for this fascinating spin on Myeisha/Tyisha’s timely and tragic true story.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Rhaechyl Walker, John Merchant, Dominique Toney, Dee Dee Stephens, Rickerby Hinds.
Director: Gus Krieger
Written by: Gus Krieger, Rickerby Hinds
Adapted from the play “Dreamscape” by Rickerby Hinds
Screened as part of the 2018 North Bend Film Festival