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‘A Year to Life’ offers inside view of South LA


Exploring both beauty and tragedy

Tikkun Olam- a Hebrew phrase meaning “repairing the world.”

“A Year to Life” is a 2023 breakout short film that chronicles the journey of one man, to save a life and set out to serve the Hebrew message coupled with the bravery of one who prevents one young life from being taken. This short film premiered at the Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival on July 28 at the Regal Cinemas in L.A. and was directed by Nikki Hevesy.

“A Year to Life” was filmed in Watts. The film features Lazarus Guidry, Noble B. Whitted, Tony Jordan, and Nicholas Peters. The film has made its international debut in Italy and was written by Nikki Hevesy and Jahmal Holland in recognition of the “ street soldiers” and inner-city residents who have experienced frequent violence.

“Film is an artistic medium, and I love that we as directors can use a pallet to tell a story in a beautiful way, or in a positive, or compelling, or riveting way, or whatever the story calls for,” Hevsey said. “This story juxtaposes the beauty of the community, the world, the children, and the innocence with the tragedy of another life lost.”

Hevsey attended weekly meetings for years in support of and as an advocate of Southern California Ceasefire, a grassroots organization that fights to prevent violence. “A Year to Life” tells the story of a young Black boy, Whizzer, whose mother is killed by gang members.

“I wanted to pay homage to these unseen heroes, these street heroes,” Hevsey said of the short film.

On the first anniversary of his mother’s death, Whizzer’s friend supplies the young boy with a gun, suggesting that he seek revenge on the gang members who took his mother’s life.  Ace, a humble neighborhood man, sees the young men standing holding the weapon while he’s working out in the park . He says “Whizzer, lemme see that burner you holdin,’” knowing the police are nearby. In short order, he is arrested,tried and sentenced to prison.

“I really saw the everyday person that works hard and makes a difference in his community,” Guidry said. “That was important to me because it helped change the narrative of how we see African-American men. He’s more of a male role model, a father figure, someone who cares about the people in his environment.”

The film ends with Ace being released. He walks out with his head held high saying “I ain’t take a life bro’. I did a year to save a life, maybe several” in sacrificing his freedom to prevent a teenager from going to prison.

“A Year to Life” is set to premiere at Black August in Pasadena at the Flintridge Center,  236 W Mountain St., Ste.106.  A panel discussion will follow the screening. For tickets or more information, call (626) 449-0839.