Harlem Fragments documents the collapse of a family. Under the duress of the 2008 financial crisis, the divorce is viewed through the eyes of a 12 year old. “My Family was destroyed on a beautiful day,” the titling opens the account and reiterates the simplistic vantage point of a child. So in feeling the boy’s actual life being pulled apart, we relate the times of our family uncertainty, and comprehend TJ’s (Kyle Keyes) escape into fantasy to cope. A happy ending for some and not others, a positive resolution is our hope for the Cameron Tyler Carr film. But real life is never that easy, and Carr knows first hand, the little boy portrayed, the 17 minute short dangles us just like the vulnerable character and forces a grown up pragmatism that no child should have to endure.

Appropriately, we enter the story through TJ’s eyes and Keyes’ wanting, searching glare has us feeling the like. The same goes for the actor’s delivery. Keyes’ pleading tone won’t accept reason in the hopes that if he refuses, his previous reality will return.

Alongside is his sister Mya (Stella Coviello), and at this point, Mya isn’t a lot of help to her little brother. She simply takes on the role of a big sister who understands better and has no patience for his naiveté. Like she has plenty of practice in real life, Coviello’s dismissive sarcasm is played to perfection and inserts the dagger into the souls of every little brother/sister.

Nonetheless, they have returned to the scene of the crime. A big proud brownstone from the outside, the empty, spacious insides suck the stature right out of the foundation. The same is true for TJ’s world, and the natural light plays as an intruder, which provides just enough illumination to shroud him in darkness. So he moves like a ghost in denial. One who is trying to figure out a way to return to the world of the living.

The cinematographic lighting that Nona Catusanu employs also alludes to the narrow manner in which adults view the world. On or off, black or white, every road traveled eventually leads to all or nothing outcomes and ultimate finality.

In this case, divorce signals the end of love and family, and TJ counters in the only way he can. He escapes into his world as an “Afro-Astronuat” and descends to the closet to blast off.

Animation by Noah MacNeil, the space traverse presented isn’t overly sophisticated but the bright reds, yellows, blues and greens fill the screen and get the point across. Children are too young to see the world in gray, and before them, the possibilities are limitless.

So TJ travels back and tries to figure out what went wrong. Now the interior furnishings are full and the same colors exist. Unfortunately, so does the darkened pale of the opening, and alongside the dour jazz trumpet that scream foreboding melancholy, we understand that the kaleidoscopic of color has little chance of escaping.

Enter Mom (Clarissa Thibeaux) and Dad (Roderick Lawrence), and while TJ relives the happiness, the boy definitely sees what he didn’t acknowledge the first time through. Easy for a child to miss, Thibeaux singes with inflections of facial arrogance, and in words, she patiently moves in for the kill with a cold reasoning.

Conveying that she was hoping for something more, the dissatisfaction that the actress emotes doesn’t help the husband’s lot. Unappreciated, Lawrence has her as a convenient excuse, but the finger of blame still falls largely on his own feelings of inadequacy. Simmering with rage, Dad’s entitled tone demands justice in an unfair world and could burn down the house.

Of course, he has help from Mom and together they make it happen. In their wake, TJ makes the early trip into adulthood. One he obviously shouldn’t have to make, which clarifies the actual complexity.

Yes, the world is gray. But now the young boy has the tools to make the best of it, and we hope this healing short extends to the filmmaker. A good chance it does since the unraveling comes with an upside. It’s ok to dream a better past, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see the world through rose colored glasses.




Harlem Fragments documents the collapse of a family. Under the duress of the 2008 financial crisis, the divorce is viewed through the eyes of a

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