A lost treasure of 1990s DIY filmmaking, Cauleen Smith’s DRYLONGSO embeds an incisive look at racial injustice within a lovingly handmade buddy movie/murder mystery/romance. Alarmed by the rate at which the young Black men around her are dying — indeed, “becoming extinct,” as she sees it — brash Oakland art student Pica (Toby Smith) attempts to preserve their existence in Polaroid snapshots, along the way forging a friendship with a woman in an abusive relationship (April Barnett), experiencing love and loss, and being drawn into the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city. Capturing the vibrant community spirit of Oakland in the ‘90s, Smith crafts both a rare cinematic celebration of Black female creativity and a moving elegy for a generation of lost African American men.
“Now, the film has been restored in 4K, supervised by [Cauleen] Smith, in a collaboration with the Criterion Collection, Janus Films, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It should reach a wider, and newer, audience than before. And the restoration still looks beautiful in all of its micro-budget and DIY filmmaking, with assurance that Smith knew where to put the camera and how to frame each moment.” —Michael Frank, The Film Stage “It’s not a mystery why this quiet wonder was lost in the Black cinema boom of the 1990s. The movie is rough-hewn as an artistic choice but also out of financial necessity…. But with its themes of Black endangerment (for both males and females) and its nuzzling of many genres (horror, romance, buddy flick), DRYLONGSO returns to us utterly, subtly, chidingly prescient.” —Lisa Kennedy, New York Times (Critic’s Pick)