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The documentary “Out of Omaha” paints an honest, ugly picture of the city of Omaha.
The film wastes no time establishing that this is a city divided. Footage of North Omaha, often filmed from the street or a car, is strikingly contrasted with picture perfect aerial footage of West Omaha.
There is a long history of racism in this city. “Out of Omaha” directly and bluntly shows that racial inequality is not just a part of the city’s past, it is very much alive in the present.
The film follows twin brothers Darcell and Darrell Trotter as they navigate the challenges of life in Omaha. From 2010-2018, the brothers gave film crews unlimited access to their lives, allowing them to show what life as a black person in Omaha is really like.
Composed of profoundly simple shots, most of the film is nothing more than holding a camera up to Darcell, Darrell or someone else in their lives and filming what they have to say about their current life situation.
The film picks up the brothers’ lives when they are young men. Darcell sees rap music as a way to escape the situation he was born into. He is chosen for a special program that helps him go to college for music production.
However, if there is one thing the film makes clear it is that even positive things like this do not guarantee success or last for long in Darcell’s life.
In one of the film’s most haunting moments, archival news footage plays of Omaha police looking for a robbery suspect: Darcell Trotter.
On camera, Darcell explains that he was not involved with the robbery and is falsely accused. He is now faced with a choice: admit who actually committed the crime, putting a target on his back throughout Omaha, or go to jail for a crime that he did not commit.
Darcell goes to friends and family for advice, but ultimately decides to turn himself in and go to jail.
“Out of Omaha” has several moments like this – moments that show how difficult and unfair life can be for black people in cities like Omaha. A young man, fighting the pull of the streets, has no choice but to go to jail for a crime that he did not commit.
When Darcell gets out, he decides to go to Grand Island, Nebraska, where his brother has started to build a new life.
This proves to be the right move. While not all good, Darcell’s life noticeably improves. He meets a woman, and together they have a daughter named Makiah.
Perhaps the best word to describe “Out of Omaha” is human. For eight years, Darcell and Darrell let cameras capture all parts of their lives. The result is an incredibly intimate film.
The subject matter is heavy, but Darcell and Darrell’s indomitable spirit becomes the focus. You cannot help but root for them.
At the end of the film, Darcell and Darrell are headed in the right direction. They are about to open up their own salvage store. Darcell calls Makiah his best friend. Darrell says that even though they are in a better place, he is not content—there is still work to be done.
The film will be released on STARZ, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and FandangoNOW on Sep. 9.