The Assassination Of A Citizen
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Rebellious teenager Rio gets pushed into the seemingly supportive world of the local gang while hard core gang member Lito follows his dangerous ambitions and young correctional officer David faces adversity at the jail and must adapt to stay afloat.


Like Moritz Rechenberg's previous short film effort Ticked (2009), The Assassination of a Citizen focuses on the issue of youth violence on the streets of Los Angeles. The goal is to expand exploration of the dynamics of gangs and what lures teenagers from various backgrounds into joining a street gang. The essential question is what does it take for teenagers to go on the streets and shoot each other? Where does that striking disregard for their own life and that of others come from?


Citizen strives to break existing stereotypes and false, belittling preconceptions of the gang-world with an unflinching and unsentimental look at what it really means to be a street gang member and to focus on the people whose lives are affected or destroyed.




The film aspires to social-realist principles. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne of Belgium, for example, are contemporary masters of this genre and their films L'Enfant (2005) or La Promesse (1996) pose as formal and thematic examples. Another paragon for Citizen is the film Gomorrah (2008) by Italian director Matteo Garrone. With the use of mostly non-professional actors, this literary adaption chronicles the various criminal machinations of the Camorra – the Neapolitan Mafia. In a vignetted, restrained narrative and with the raw and immediate feel of the documentary-style cinematography, Gomorrah penetrates deep into the guts of organized crime of global proportions. Further inspirations in spirit are two local, Los Angeles-based films: Killer of Sheep (1977) by Charles Burnett and Bless Their Little Hearts (1984) by Billy Woodberry. Burnett's and Woodberry's works are landmark films of American cinema and highlights of the American Realist movement of the 1970's and 80's with John Cassavettes as its most prominent figure.




The goal of Citizen is to offer the viewer an alternative perspective on the subject matter, to shed a light on the issue of the ongoing youth violence epidemic. Citizen pulls the viewer into its world by way of a naturalistic and realistic approach in visual style, talent and storytelling technique. The film strives to minimize the barrier between the audience and the action on screen by putting its characters in a mundane world – a world recognizable by the viewer.


The gang milieu is complemented by the story of a young jailer inspired by the lives of Los Angeles law enforcement officers. These officers were ambitious, hard-working, some fallible men and women who struggled with the adverse environments they worked in. What distinguished them from the rest was their determination to look beyond their own woeful upbringings, to avoid trouble and to pursue a positive, constructive lifestyle. Some kept themselves busy with small jobs until their dream of joining the police force became reality. Eventually, however, these men and women had to give everything for their job.


The character of the jailer provides insight into darker aspects of our society: the machinations of troubled correctional institutions, circumstances which eventually catch up to him. An emotional point of entry for the viewer is the mundane, domestic life of a police officer and his family, including the pressures and fears that come with it. The question that is posed in Citizen is: for an idealist like our protagonist, how can these two worlds be reconciled without compromising one's own principles and character?




Similarly to Ticked, an essential element in the development and execution of Citizen is to strongly collaborate with people and communities, which are struggling with violence. Their participation is essential on all levels of production, from story development and dialogue to talent and location scouting. Some positions offer employment and to some degree training to former gang-members and others who struggle to find work.


Moritz Rechenberg serves as the writer, producer as well as the director of Citizen. The crew will be staffed with the most suitable, most skilled and experienced personnel available. Reflektiv will pursue lesser-known, quality talent as well as non-professional actors for Citizen. The film will be a vehicle for young, fresh talent in front of the camera, as well as behind it. If suitable and beneficial to the part, name talent will be sought after.



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1 Vigil, James Diego: Street Life and Identity in Southern California, University of Texas Press, 1988

2 Pelisek, Christine, “The Assassination of Deputy Abel Escalante”, LAWeekly, Oct 16-29 2009.




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