In director Justin Tipping's feature debut Kicks, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy, assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex, and picked on by everyone—even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow. Boasting a strong ensemble cast, and featuring a memorable lead performance by newcomer Jahking Guillory, the film transcends a deceptively traditional hero's journey to deliver an entertaining and sobering look at the realities of inner-city life, the concept of manhood, and the fetishization of sneaker culture. Visually and thematically rich, with an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of machismo.
Justin is a writer/director originally from the Oakland CA Bay Area. Kicks is his first feature film as a director. Previously, he made a Student Academy Award winning short film, Nani. Justin holds a MFA in Directing from AFI and a BA in Film and Media Studies from UC-Santa Barbara.
Read an interview with Kicks writer-director Justin Tipping about the film's real-life inspiration, its hip-hop influences, and more at TribecaFilm.com.