The son of Pakistani immigrants, filmmaker Amman Abbasi grew up in Arkansas, where he still lives and works and which became the set for his debut feature. Departing from the details of his own adolescence, “Dayveon” follows a black teenager over one sweltering summer when he falls in with a local gang. Searching for community in the wake of his older brother’s death, he is drawn to the sense of belonging and violence of his new comrades.
“Executive produced by David Gordon Green, this poetic rural drama is graced with the same humanist shine that defined ‘George Washington,'” wrote IndieWire’s David Ehrlich in his review out of Sundance earlier this year. “Amman Abbasi’s debut feature revitalizes a familiar coming-of-age story by telling it with a rare sense of truth… Shot with raw specificity and a remarkable sense of place.”
Written by Abbasi and Steven Reneau, the film owes as much to Gordon Green as it does to Andrea Arnold’s poetic realism, with its nature metaphors and humanist storytelling. The cast, anchored by the young Devin Blackmon in the titular role, are all relatively new faces, adding an immediate naturalism rarely achieved by larger Hollywood fare. The central coming-of-age tale of a young black teenager will naturally draw comparisons to “Moonlight,” which isn’t bad company to keep.
Watch the trailer below:
FilmRise will release “Dayveon” in New York and LA on September 13, with additional cities to follow.