Review: Out of Omaha
The story of Darcell and Darrell Trotter is the story of many young Black men in America and was almost my own.
Out of Omaha follows the two twins over seven years as they profess their dreams for a better tomorrow. Beginning in 2011, a 19-year-old Darcell expresses his dissatisfaction with everyday life and his burning desire to make music to lift himself and his family out of poverty. We see the young lead living amidst piles of clothes and papers, while he spits rhymes about the good times when things were simple and he didn’t have to worry about dying.
As soon as the film started I saw all the familiar streets and dilapidated landmarks of North Omaha, a place I’ve called home most of my life until we were forced to move out in 2008 due to the housing crisis. Honestly, I think that tragedy was a blessing. Losing our home moved me away from all the toxic forces the Trotter twins were steeped in: drugs, guns, violence, and scenes of hopelessness.
With the help of Avenue Scholars, Darcell got scholarship support to go to UNO to study music engineering, something he had always wanted to do but never thought was an option. Slowly but surely he was able to make moves toward his goals of becoming a producer, that is until he caught a case and his face was plastered on the evening news calling him a thief. His young dreams were thrown into a jail cell for three months until he was acquitted.
Months prior Darrell had moved to Grand Island, Nebraska to stay with their father and get out of the bullshit that put an innocent Darcell behind bars. After his acquittal, Darcell went to join his brother and get a fresh start. Things seem to go fine until their father left them for his addiction and soon after the twins and another brown-skinned friend are accused of sexually assaulting a white woman.
The woman later recanted her statement and said she lied but the damage had already been done. No matter how hard the boys worked to rise above the prescription of “dangerous predator and thug” the world seemed to reel them back in. Even news reports did not correct their reporting for three years after the charges were dropped, which speaks to the perpetual criminalization of Black bodies regardless of their innocence.
As the film progresses you see the boys become men, moving up in their workplace, having children, and reigniting their ambition. When things seem to hit a high note, their younger brother Charles is charged with murder and sentenced to 90 years in prison. Although the twins just barely escaped the grasps of the prison industrial complex, they see their own flesh and blood lose his life for a crime he said he didn’t commit.
What inspired me most about Out of Omaha was seeing the threads of honest brotherly love woven throughout. Audience members get a chance to see young Black men being vulnerable toward each other and lending support wherever they can. It is a humanizing and heartwarming story element that breathes hope into the film. Local musician Skylar Reed (Scky Rei) is the voice of reason and support to young Darcell before he goes to jail for the first time and even later when they reconnect in Omaha. Seeing the genuine conversations and expressions shared between the friends drew me in to love the Trotters and their journey.
The film resonated deeply with me because I saw so much of myself in them. The places they roamed and the people they knew, I was there too, just a few years younger. So many kids I grew up with from my old neighborhood are likely in jail or elsewhere. We were told we were bad kids with no chance of moving up. Fortunately, I had my mother and other caring people around who were able to pull me out, but not everyone gets that chance.
Out of Omaha documents the impacts of generational trauma, the desire to break the cycle, and the social barriers that can rip the wings off of ambitious butterflies. Yet through honesty, perseverance, and unconditional love we see what can happen when people set their sights beyond where they began.
“I’m just glad to be able to share my story,” said Darcell Trotter at the Omaha premiere on August 30, “if anybody could relate to anything going on in there, it keeps me grounded.”
There will be a premiere screening of Out of Omaha in Kearney, NE at The World Theater. Screening starts September 6 and 7 at 7:30 pm, last screening on September 8 at 2 pm.
Out of Omaha will be available on Starz, iTunes, and Amazon Prime on September 9. Outofomahafilm.com
OUT OF OMAHA is an award-winning, intimate portrait of twin brothers Darcell and Darrell Trotter, young black men coming of age in the divided city of Omaha, Nebraska. Directed by Clay Tweel and Executive Produced by J. Cole.