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The Cypher

Khalil, a young black rapper in Philly, is a rising star in the underground Rap Battle scene. He wins the semi-finals of The Cypher, giving him the chance to battle the fierce legend, Yung Reap, in the Final Battle. When Khalil goes to celebrate his success, we meet Marc, Khalil's boyfriend. Marc asks to come cheer on Khalil in the finals, but Khalil is not ready to be public about his sexuality. No one, not even Khalil's little sister Kiki, knows the truth about who Khalil really is. But when Kiki discovers her brother's secret, she unwittingly sets in motion events that might destroy her brother's chances for success.

  • Letia Solomon
    God Told Me, Elevate
  • Wes Akwuobi
  • Anne Brashier
    Dancing Man the Documentary, Homemade Movies
  • c. Craig Patterson
    A Girl, But We're Okay
  • Ben Cory Jones
    Insecure, Boomerang, Underground, Hand of God, Step Sisters
  • Nigel Cox
    Key Cast
  • Kerrice Brooks
    Key Cast
  • Juan Gil
    Key Cast
  • O'Shay Neal
    Key Cast
    "Yung Reap"
  • Nelcie Souffrant
    Key Cast
  • Alexander Robinson
    Key Cast
  • Michael Devon
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Hip Hop, Music
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 4 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 2020 Tribeca Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    April 19, 2020
    World Premiere
    2020 Official Selection
Director Biography - Letia Solomon

Letia Solomon is an African American filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from the University of California Riverside with a degree in Chemical Engineering and worked as a Materials Engineer in Aerospace for four years before transitioning into a career of film. She wrote and directed "Elevate" which won for Best Student Film in the 2017 Philadelphia Independent Film Awards and Co-Founded the African World Film Festival in Detroit, MI. Letia attends USC's School of Cinematic Arts for a MFA in TV & Film Production and completed an internship with Charles D. King's production company Macro. Her thesis film The Cypher premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Letia directs, produces, and acts for both television and film. She is a champion for underrepresented voices and hopes to inspire the next generation of artists.

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Director Statement

The Cypher is about a young man accepting his truth and understanding that he can exist in more than one facet of society with his manhood and identity still in tact. As human beings, we are beautifully complex and multi-faceted. We face immense amounts of pressure to conform to society’s standards while usually sacrificing ourselves along the way. Khalil reminds me of someone very dear to me - my brother. I’ve watched him overcome his struggles and evolve into a beautiful, extremely accomplished young man with a passion and a purpose. Rap/Hip-Hop is Khalil’s purpose. His lyrics are his power but he must fight the crowd in order to be heard. This film is for Men. Black and Brown Men. And any one of us that are still dealing with self-acceptance. Now is the time. Own who you are and spit your truth.