♪ ♪ SOL: When we capture stories that are in our lineage or in our community, we have a much better understanding of who we are.
And I think that it's the only way we've survived as humans is, like, we tell stories.
♪ ♪ My name is Sol Guy.
I'm the director of The Death of My Two Fathers.
My, you know, background is a mixed race.
My parents are both Americans.
Mom from Upstate New York, she's born Jewish.
Father from Kansas City, Missouri, a Black man.
But I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada, called Grand Forks.
Very small community, not diverse in what we would say traditional ways now, but diverse in, in experience and in kind of the way that people wanted to care for each other.
Also, a safe place, which I think for a lot of my brothers and sisters growing up in America, if you're safe, you can take risks, you can explore, you can think, can ask questions.
You can get outside of what is your known environment.
And that's what I think has shaped, shaped me the most.
This, this body I'm in, while I'm mixed, the world has only ever seen me or approached me as a Black man.
When you're born in this country as a Black man, there's this thing that gets put on you.
It's, like, boom!
It's just dropped, it's like a yoke.
Like, it's just like this... (imitates chains locking) It's almost like a-- it contains you.
And, and it's your, your safety is in danger.
The gift of growing up in Canada in that small town was, that didn't get put on me.
And I, so I was able to navigate, I've been able to navigate the world very differently.
I see some of my friends who are very successful and done all the things in this country, and they still have that thing on them.
And I don't think people really understand what that feels like.
You know, if I'm honest, I went into making this film a bit selfishly.
I needed to go to some places that I was scared of.
Where my father was raised, Kansas City, Missouri, where he's from, reconnecting or connecting with the Black side of my family.
It was something I needed to do.
The top-a-top dog is my sister Travistine, the matriarch of the family.
- (laughing) - Holds it down.
DWAYNE: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Actually got locked up together.
- What do you say to people who kind of, who pass judgment on, you know, what you guys got caught up in?
"Why were you out hustling?
", or, like, "You had a choice"?
- I mean, they right.
Everybody has a choice.
I could have been a doctor.
I could've went to school and been a lawyer.
But growing up in my environment, ain't what I saw.
So why do something I ain't saw?
I have a lot of, like, anxiety when I come here, because, I don't know why, I build up expectation.
Like, I get...
I think it's guilt.
♪ ♪ I had never watched the tapes that my father left behind because I couldn't.
I carried them around.
You, you know, year of his death, he sat, looked in a old VHS camera, old camcorder, and recorded eight hours of video telling his life story.
Being an only child in the neighborhood that I grew up in was a rarity.
Just me and my mom.
We were quite poor, and, you know, we didn't have a lot of money for a lot of things.
But in those days, you didn't, there wasn't a lot of things you needed.
Wasn't a lot of things to be had.
SOL: And I just wasn't ready to face that loss.
- I love you guys.
I love you guys so much.
♪ ♪ SOL: The film gave me an opportunity to face that loss, but I needed to reshape the, my relationship with my father because I'm a, a father.
We can repeat patterns or we can arrive to address them and we can push past them.
And then perhaps you don't pass them on.
There's things I've inherited that I have the opportunity to not pass on.
But it was really a process of a healing practice.
And you're making art to get outside of what you know and put something in front of you.
And I was radically changed over the course of those, those four years-- I'm grateful.
I hope that theirs is a place where we can talk about the things that we feel as, as men, that encourage people to find their way back, 'cause eventually, you will.
It could be in your last breath.
We as society could do a lot more to acknowledge that that's a difficult thing to do.
The other thing I hope that, for audiences is that we understand the power of the, and importance of our story, and telling our story, and documenting our story and sharing, you know, and it does not have to be in this format.
We got these, all these devices.
Go talk to your grandma and, or your grandfather, or your sons and daughters, or your aunt or uncle, or the O.G.
that, you know, helped you when you were 14.
Go sit down and, like, put the phone on and record audio.
Get these stories so you can share them with others.
It might just be to play it later.
It might be 'cause someone else will discover it.
You're 13 now.
You'll watch this when you're 14, or maybe 23 or 45, I don't know.
And who knows what this footage will look like by the time you watch it?
Like how this footage from '88, when I was your age, looks to me now.
- Yeah, I'm from Grand Forks, too, and... SOL: For any filmmakers out there who are thinking about doing a personal story, I would, I would just encourage you to take the first step.
Like, take the first step and keep walking towards yourself and walk towards what you're most challenged or fearful of.
Because there are things that you discover along the way that are transformative.