I Am Gangster | Beta_2
A feature motion picture written & directed by Moritz Rechenberg, I Am Gangster takes an unvarnished look at the evolving street gang phenomenon in Los Angeles.
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Join us for the West Coast Premiere on Saturday, June 11th at 9:30PM in Hollywood, CA! Get your tickets here.

TRAILER

5LitoRiodavid

ABOUT THE FILM


A rebellious teenager, a hardcore gang member, and an idealistic cop risk everything to find their place in the world.

BACKGROUND
Writer/Director Moritz Rechenberg first took interest in street gang kids in late 2007 when he was searching for a subject matter for his next short film, Ticked. While skimming the Los Angeles Times an article about racially motivated gang killings grabbed his attention. Driven by a desire to tell the story of kids who are left to themselves, turn to the street and take up arms to shoot at their perceived enemy he needed to thoroughly educate himself and dedicate his time and resources to making a film against forgetting.

COMMUNITY
Rechenberg took his research and wrote an outline of a screenplay, which was then developed in collaboration with kids from the Teen Club at Hazard Park in East Los Angeles. Ticked was shot over the course of six weeks in the summer of 2008. For Rechenberg this revelatory, community-based experience only brought him closer to the struggle of the Homies. To dig deeper into the issue of gang-related youth violence he expanded his research and developed the feature film that would become I Am Gangster. For both films the participation of community members as well as former and occasionally active gang members was essential on many levels from story development, location scouting and on-screen talent. Besides lending an inimitable character and level of authenticity to the film these positions offered employment, a positive work experience and Rechenberg hopes it created an opportunity for healing through active reflection.

EXECUTION
Rechenberg and the film’s Director of Photography Lyn Moncrief worked without a storyboard to approach each scene as open-minded as possible. Leaving enough room to let the beauty of the mundane show they wanted to cover each scene with a certain efficiency; not to create long shots for the sake of spectacle but to give Moncrief and Rechenberg the freedom to organically block a scene and to give the actors the opportunity to thrive and improvise. While several months were spent coaching first-time actors to give them the comfort needed to perform under pressure and in front of a camera, most dialogue was written, rewritten and improvised on set as they went along. Rechenberg says: “It’s a risky technique but the level of artistic spontaneity, this instinctual kind of process, was not just thrilling and artistically fulfilling but necessary to achieve the naturalistic feel of the mise en scéne.”

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Rio
Lito
david

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rio_bio

RIO
Rio, an artistic teenager and occasional tagger, is trying to find the right place for himself in the world between tradition and progress. Although he knows better, pressure from his domineering father to take over the family business, problems at school and a rediscovered bond with street gangster Chavo entice Rio to move towards the protection and acceptance that gang life seems to promise.

lito_bio

LITO
After a respected fellow gangster and friend is shot dead by the police, Lito reaches for more power in the gang and wants to retaliate. However, Lito’s foster mother and the gang’s matriarch, Tia, refuses to let him do so to avoid attracting attention from the cops. But driven by his ambitions to up his game and to provide for his own growing family, Lito steps into dangerous territory when he starts an operation of his own.

david_bio

DAVID
David is a young police officer with the Department of Corrections, an upright citizen and family man. But the reality of working at a jail catches up to him when he’s threatened and intimidated by a group of violent jailers and a powerful prison gang who are all trying to recruit him as a new member. Eventually David struggles to keep even his family safe and suddenly finds his own life in jeopardy.
Cast
Crew

Written and Directed by
MORITZ RECHENBERG

Screenplay by
CAROLINE CHANG
and MARK McKEOWN
and KELLY PARKER

Produced by
RALF WEINFURTNER

Director of Photography
LYN MONCRIEF

Production Designer
BRANDON MENDEZ

Executive Producer
MORITZ RECHENBERG

Line Producer
RALF WEINFURTNER

Casting by
ZORA DeHORTER, CSA

Costume Designer
VICTOR A. SANDOVAL

Original Music by
KELMAN DURAN

Music Supervisor
ANDY GOWAN