New Film ‘Toddlers’ Depicts Baby-Faced Gangsters With Guns

A new independent film depicting child gangsters as young as 12 is creating a stir in Harlem. The independent straight to DVD film titled ‘Toddlers’ depicts baby-faced gangsters involved in shoot outs, murder, drug dealing and sex.

The film’s director Tremaine “M5″ Brown claims he didn’t set out to promote violence, but he also admits there is no message in the kiddie version of Harlem Nights, which was filmed on location in Harlem using child actors.

“That’s what’s going on, I’m just showing it,” Brown told the Daily News. “You hear about these murders, but people don’t see how it happens. I show how these incidents happen. These are real life situations.

“The parents don’t get to see what these kids are really doing,” said Brown, 29. ‘Toddlers‘ was released last month with limited distribution.

The lead gangster in the film, 14-year-old Pito, is played with graphic realism by Jordan Pena, now 16. Pito is forced to grow up quickly when his drug dealing father is killed.

Pito takes charge of the family business, which involves daily violent confrontations with other kiddie drug dealers in the neighborhood.

Pena tells the NY Daily News that the film doesn’t promote violence — he says his character portrays how real-life can alter a kid’s world in the hood.

Termaine (M5) Brown (with glasses) and some of the actors of his new independent film “Toddlers.’ From left are Jordan Pena “il tune,” Pedro Cruz and Henry Sanchez “Chicky Thing.” (Photo by Viorel Florescu for New York Daily News)

“It promotes how to turn into a man; how to take care of a family,” said Pena, now 16.“It promotes how life is out here. It’s definitely reality.”

Pena said his character wasn’t a stretch for him. “It was basically me acting like myself. It wasn’t hard at all. This was like playing my life,” said Pena.

But anti-violence activists cringe at the concept of a movie based on juvenile gangsters similar to the drug dealing characters in HBO’s Baltimore-based docudrama ‘The Wire‘.

“It was disgusting,” said Jackie Rowe-Adams, founder of anti-violence group Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., who viewed the film, “This should be banned.”

Rowe-Adams, whose 13-year-old son was a victim of gun violence, said she’d like to meet the filmmaker and perhaps work with him to use his skills to send a different message. “Can’t he channel his talents into something positive?” she asked.

Rowe-Adams is considering boycotting Black Star Music & Video on Lenox Ave. near W. 128th St., the only store selling the $20 movie.-Sandrarose.com


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