21-year-old director, Caleb Jaffe makes Sundance debut with ‘It’s Not About Jimmy Keene’

Caleb Jaffe writes, directs, and stars in the film inspired by his real0-life reaction to racial tensions.

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The Sundance Film Festival is full of fascinating stories and thought-provoking projects, but It’s Not About Jimmy Keene stood out as something truly special. Aside from the fact that the project is poignant, passionate, and truly stirring, the story behind this work of art makes it even more intriguing.

It’s Not About Jimmy Keene was born from the real-life experience of it’s writer, director, and star; 21-year-old Caleb Jaffe.  A racially charged incident during his freshman year in college left him frightened, angry and confused. Until then, his mixed-race background was just a part of his identity but the incident prompted him to start asking some urgent questions. Instead of returning to campus for his sophomore year, he took his tuition savings, left school, and decided to make a film about the confusion. 

What resulted is a truly inspired piece of work helmed by someone who is clearly wise beyond their years. 

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Check out the log line: 

The police shooting of an unarmed Black teen causes friction within a mixed-race Los Angeles family. Ivan, the youngest sibling, is stalked by visions of Jimmy Keene’s floating corpse. Torn between the opposing world views of his two older sisters, Ivan searches for his voice while the family divisions heighten when the parents take sides. 

TheGrio sat down with Caleb Jaffe as well as cast members including Gabrielle Maiden, Roger Guenveur Smith, and discussed how this masterpiece is a unique form of protest against the terrifying reality we find ourselves in today.

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Check out the full interview above.