Private Project

this is how I want to remember H.E.R.

A young black boy is given a different kind of education when his cousin from the inner city moves in with his suburban family.

10-year-old Corbin is just hitting that age, that time in his life when he realizes how much the color of his black skin separates him from his friends and neighbors in the suburbs. So when his family takes in his cousin Patience, a 15-year-old lesbian who's been living on the streets, Corbin is captivated by her unapologetic attitude and gift for rap. He sees in her someone unafraid to be different, even though Corbin's parents and his 16-year-old brother Luke seem to think Patience is a nightmare. But as Patience's behavior grows more erratic, Corbin is shown the pain beneath her brash confidence, and that pain will change the way he looks at her and himself forever.

  • Kali Baker-Johnson
  • Kali Baker-Johnson
  • Shannon Losinski
  • Jabree Webber
    Key Cast
  • Alexander Shulman
    Key Cast
  • Khairi Christopher
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    26 minutes 32 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 16, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Kali Baker-Johnson

After spending years working in media education, digital content and broadcast journalism on the East Coast, Kali decided to move to Los Angeles and delve head first into movie-making as a Directing Fellow at Chapman University, where he was selected as an O.L. Halsell Scholar which allowed him to collaborate with Oscar-winning producer Cathy Schulman. His award-winning short films have screened at film festivals at home and abroad, been exhibited in programs for domestic abuse education and centers for at risk youth, and even premiered in Times Square in New York City. Currently he is working on a pair of screenplays and finishing up post-production on his first feature-length documentary Thumbwarrior.

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Director Statement

“My cousin moved in with my family when I was 13 and she immediately changed everything around me. So while this film isn’t autobiographical it’s certainly very personal and very real to me, but not just because certain things may or may not have actually happened. At different points in my life I have felt like all three of the children in this family. Whether it’s feeling like less of a black man than a 90-pound girl, as Luke does; realizing that even your closest friends have no idea who you really are, like Corbin; or being thrown into a space where everyone looks at you like you’re an animal to the point where you start to believe it yourself, which is what Patience experiences. In the end, what unites all of them is that they are all simultaneously outsiders and insiders within their own families, and by extension their own people.

People usually ask me two things after viewing the film: Why is the acronym in the title and what happens to Patience. The first question is easy. The acronym is referencing Common’s 1994 hip-hop classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” because, in many ways, Patience’s story is also the story of black music. As for the second question, the answer isn’t as direct. For me, the end of the film is less about what happens to Patience and more about looking through Corbin’s eyes and seeing what happens to the idea of her (or H.E.R.) as this unconquerable paragon of black masculinity. In the end, that idea of H.E.R. is replaced by something Corbin cannot, and can never, unknow.”