Morris From America

Morris From America is a wonderful and heartfelt cross-cultural coming-of-age tale about an African-American boy trying to adapt in Germany. This hip-hop-infused rite of passage story would work well in a triple feature alongside other Sundance films like Dope and The Wackness.

Morris From America Review

Morris aspires to be a freestyle rapper, but like many young dreamers, he emulates his idols rather than create his own wholly original work. Having a tough time making friends after moving abroad, Morris (Markees Christmas) is directed to join a youth group by his German language tutor, where he develops a crush on a local German girl named Katrin (Lina Keller). A friendship develops that sends him on a journey of self-discovery and tests the dynamic of Morris’ relationship with his recently widowed father Curtis (Craig Robinson).

Morris From America is the kind of film that Sundance often programs. It’s a story that puts us in a very unique situation well outside the realm of our own personal experiences, yet somehow allows us to relate and connect to characters, places, and situations despite those differences. The fish-out-of-water adolescent crush story is very relatable, but less compelling than Morris’ relationship with his father. And while Robinson certainly brings some comedy to this warm indie film, its nice to see him in a more dramatic turn. I’d actually love to see him in more roles like this, and you will too after seeing this film.

This is Chad Hartigan’s second feature film to play at the Sundance Film Festival. A few years ago, his drama This Is Martin Bonner won the Audience Award as part of the NEXT category. This year Hartigan graduates from the first-time filmmaker discovery section to the full-on U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Lead actor Markees Christmas is the real discovery of this film. The young star delivers a charming and vulnerable performance which is sure to put this kid on the top of casting lists for years to come. In a post screening Q&A, the filmmaker revealed that Markees was discovered on YouTube. You can see the videos that got Hartigan’s attention embedded below:

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.