SXSW Film: ’12 O’Clock Boys’ – A Boy, His Bike And The Streets Of Baltimore
If you’ve ever been a fan of the gritty HBO series ‘The Wire’ then you’re familiar with how colorful the portrayals of Baltimore characters can be. A man, woman or child can easily stand out in a crowd based on their unique dialect, hairstyle or and even preference in attire. On March 10th, during the SXSW Film festival in Austin, Texas – an oddly attractive story about a boy, his bike and the streets of Baltimore premiered entitled ’12 O’Clock Boys’ – and left audiences intrigued with a young boy from West Baltimore they would have otherwise unknown.
Directed by Lotfy Nathan, ’12 O’Clock’ boys follows the growing dangerous pastime of dirt bike gangs in the inner cities (specifically Baltimore, MD).
“I was attending college in Baltimore and would see the dirt bike pack zoom by once in a while. Neither I nor anyone else in the protected bubble I was living in knew what they were about. I asked around and found that they congregated at Druid Hill Park on Sundays. I went there not knowing what to expect, but found that the riders were very receptive. I made some friends and went from there. Within about a year I was able to get in position to capture some very dynamic action coverage of the riders, thanks to a faction of the group called the WOWBOYZ, who I approached through YouTube after seeing how well they were able to keep up with the pack. They were veterans of the group, and they knew how to negotiate the chaos of following the group. In 2010 I met Pug and knew immediately that there was something very telling in his character, a young boy on the cusp of joining the group.”
Synopsis: The story follows Pug, a thirteen year old boy living on a dangerous Westside block of Baltimore, who has one goal in mind: to join the 12 O’Clock Boys; the notorious urban dirt-bike gang. Converging from all parts of the inner city, they invade the streets and clash with police, who are forbidden to chase the bikes for fear of endangering the public. Pug looks to the pack for mentorship, spurred by their dangerous lifestyle and deep bonds. He narrates their world as if explaining a dreamscape—an action-packed world full of power and freedom. The film captures this world with unprecedented intimacy as the riders themselves guide us into a culture few get to access. The film presents the pivotal years of change in a boy’s life growing up in one of the most dangerous and economically depressed cities in the United States.
If you were lucky to grow up in Inner City, USA – you’ll undoubtedly find familiarities scattered throughout the documentary that’ll leave you attached to several key characters in the film. Watching Pug grow in just the span of a few years from a young child to a pre-teen left audiences wondering, “What’s Pug up to now?”. Hopefully director Lotfy Nathan will create a follow up documentary that’ll keep us up to date with Pug, Coco and the 12 O’Clock boys.
For more on the documentary and the director, visit 12OClockboys.com