On March 6, 2018 I went to the Century 20 in downtown Redwood City, which is on the former site of the Sequoia High School and is across the street from San Mateo Historical Museum, to see a screening of the independent film “Saviors” which was part of the Cinequest film lineup. Sequoia High School had been the first public school built between San Francisco and San Jose in 1895. The school had been torn down in 1949, after its vacancy, and the new cinema building was not erected until 2005.
Cinequest currently takes place in Century 20 in Redwood City and the historic California Theatre of San Jose, and other smaller historic theaters. Currently the main events of the film festival, such as the opening and closing events with featured Hollywood actors, occur at the California Theater in San Jose.
I mentioned to Patrick, one of the box office staff for Cinequest I met while buying my ticket, that I had gone to the Maverick Spirit Award event with Nicolas Cage the week before, and he mentioned that he sees Nicolas Cage regularly at the Lifetime Fitness that he is a member of in Las Vegas. A small, small world indeed!
Upstairs, there were posters and flyers for several other independent films being featured, such as the drama exploring human fallibility, “It’s Hard to Be Human”, “Information Superhighway”, “Enthusiastic Sinners”, the comedy “Party It Up”and various other films. From what I saw, there was a very varied spectrum of independent films available for audiences.
Saviors was indeed a very heart wrenching fictional film, exploring the worst of human racial prejudices with some historical context. Actress Meg Johnson plays the main character who infiltrates a white supremacist group as an informant. The members of the white supremacist group brag about inciting violence at their last march, implying a continuation of violence at marches such as what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 with the death of a protester hit by a white supremacist’s car ramming into the crowd. The white supremacist group took matters a step further by kidnapping two African Americans, played by Glenn Lutz and Nathaniel Stroud, who they intended to kill while on film, in order to provoke race riots in the United States akin to those that occurred in the last century.
Glenn Lutz’s character is shot in the head in a room covered in plastic, whereas the group plans on chaining Nathaniel’s character on the back of a truck and dragging his body on country roads. Nathaniel’s character escapes a fate met by his ancestors during the course of the civil rights era, and tells Meg’s character about the Race Riot of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma where several African Americans homes and businesses had been burned to the ground after a caucasian elevator operator falsely accused the son of a wealthy black businessman of rape.
Nathaniel’s character said that ignorance of our past violent racial history by many caucasians, is the definition of “white privilege” since he is still affected by the ghosts of racial hatred while many caucasians in the country are not.
This film unveils some unsavory racial history to remind us that we should not fall into tribal behavior, like members of humanity has so many times in the past, because it’s effects last for generations and generations to come.