BY: COLTON MAINES
Local residents got a chance to see a first-hand impact of domestic abuse in a student film that documented Cora Maxwell’s life at the University Student Union (USU) Beach Auditorium last week.
In the 30-minute student film “Cora,” writer and director Kevin Maxwell tells his grandmother’s story of not only dealing with racial prejudice in the 1960s, but also surviving the abuse from her husband and then taking the steps to move on. The film was put on for a special screening at Cal State Long Beach with the help of the Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.
In the film, Cora works as a waitress in Memphis, Tennessee and is admired by the community for her hard work and hospitality. Her generosity is so great that she even gives free meals to the homeless.
This starts the first conflict where police officers enter the diner and harass Cora and the other patrons claiming she can’t give free meals to any white person.
This goes so far that an officer assaults her and another threatens to shoot one of the patrons.
After this, Cora’s husband, Winston, picks her up. At home, he shows what kind of man he is when he starts to beat her for talking back to him.
Easily the most graphic scene and major climax of the film is when Winston takes Cora to the garage, douses her in gasoline and almost sets her on fire.
This was the final straw before Cora realized it was time to stand up and leave.
The film stars “Hunger Games” actress Latarsha Rose in the role of Cora and Joe Holt in the role of Winston. Both actors do a great job and give a very believable, dynamic and emotionally-compelling insight into domestic abuse.
The film itself is beautifully shot and does a great job of making the setting feel like the 1960s.
The one significant complaint I would have for this movie is that it was way too short. Thankfully, Kevin has acknowledged this, and he said he is looking forward to someday making Cora’s story into a feature-length film.
After the screening, the various members of the audience got to ask Kevin, producer David Field and the real-life Cora that the character is based on about the inspiration for the movie, how it was made and Cora’s experiences dealing with abuse.
One person asked Cora, “Being a black woman in that time, how did you deal with that racism and domestic violence?”
She responded, “I’m praying no one has to go through what I did. The Lord spoke to me, and I said, ‘I got to get out of here.’ I dealt with the racism because you didn’t have any other choice. That was the only treatment I knew.”
Another person asked Cora, “Were there any resources available to you? Were you able to divorce?”
She responded, “A lot of black people back then didn’t divorce, they just went with someone else down the road or just left.”
A person asked Kevin, “How hard was it for you to write the script?”
He responded, “It was pretty easy. There were certain parts of her life she told me that inspired me, like the gasoline scene. They moved me.”