The purpose of this film was not to pick one side or another. The purpose was simply to present the issue at face value and address the need for change, without patronizing or trivializing the causes of said violence. We are, as a collective, denying the social problems that exist in Chicago. Highly influ-enced by Alan Clarke’s short film ‘Elephant’, 4 Corners is a reference to “the elephant in our living room.”
The audience sees repetitive acts of violence (just as we see repetitive acts of violence in the news) and assumes the deaths are meaningless. However, under the surface, a larger story runs in the background of each of these individual’s stories if one pays close enough attention. Stories of pride, ignorance and retaliation serve as the backbone of 4 Corners, just as they serve as the backbone of so many Chicago murders. Tit-for-tat killings that seem meaningless to those looking in from the outside, are exactly the opposite to the people involved; and are even more important and real their loved ones who are often the most impacted and are left to pick up the pieces.
A swipe on our phones, a click of the channel, a quick head shake and then back to our everyday lives. Chicago’s violence is so prevalent that it’s not even news anymore, sure we feel bad but what do we do about it? We’ve become so numb that we treat each occurrence as just another news story, similar to the way we treat a viral dance video or trendy diet; we give it a second of our time and then move on. I wanted to treat the violent scenarios in 4 Corners in the same fashion in which we treat them in our every day lives. Oftentimes in violent films, protagonist and antagonist are pitted against each other. This dichotomy can be problematic, however, because in reality, there are no protagonist and antagonists—only losers. In 4 Corners, I chose not to have protagonists or antagonists in order to portray the world more realistically.
Each scene is meant to have a voyeuristic feel to it. Long tracking shots allow tension to build as we follow one character at a time as they try to live their everyday lives. Killing is a conscious decision, which means that more actions than simply pulling the trigger are taken into account. Turning back is always an option, but in this film that option is never exercised.
An important aspect of this film is one of the final scenes where we see the janitor cleaning up after the opening shootout in the restaurant. We see a long sequence of the janitor mopping and scraping up the aftermath of the shooting, which was intentionally painful and drawn-out. Oftentimes in film, especially in those dealing with similar subject matter, we see a shootout or an act of aggression take place and then the scene ends. Typically, after one of those violent scenes, the film continues its storyline. We never see the aftermath or the remnants of what is left of the scene. In the news, we hear about gun violence and we may even see footage of mothers crying in the streets, but then the story is forgotten. It was really important for me in this film to show the aftermath of gun violence. When gun violence occurs in real life there is no next scene; there is no next story; the people affect-ed by it have to piece their lives back together and continue living with this grief. The scene with the janitor literally picking up the pieces left from the incident was my way of illustrating the long-lasting effects of gun violence that we are not typically exposed to in the media