Sheldon Candis, whose touching coming-of-age debut film LUV starred Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert and Michael K. Williams and made a big splash at Sundance last year, has teamed up with Jay-Z and RocNation Grammy-nominated artist J Cole to create a short film to accompany Cole’s hit single “Crooked Smile.” The song features TLC and is from his Born Sinner album, currently available everywhere. The short film, which Candis directed, makes a strong social statement on current US drug laws. The film was created in dedication to the life of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the 7-year-old child who was tragically killed during a police raid of her brother’s house in Detroit.
“Jay-Z’s record label RocNation called,” says Candis, “and said we’re a fan of your Sundance film LUV. We’d like to put you with J.Cole to create an emotional moving and cinematic music driven short film. Then auspiciously I ran into J.Cole at LAX taking a redeye to New York. I walked up to him, introduced myself with my Macbook in hand, and offered to show him the LUV trailer in the airport terminal. The moment he saw the story of Woody, a Baltimore kid searching for his mother through a troublesome relationship with his uncle, he was hooked. The trailer resonated with him emotionally; the truth in the story captivated him. He said ‘You’re my guy’.”
“The response to the short has been amazing and overwhelming,” he continues. “As the song has top charted, the short film has gone viral, and a rapid sharing of the social message of Crooked Smile is happening. An immediate dialogue. I’m mostly happy for Dominika Jones, Aiyana’s mother, who is having her daughter’s life honored and spirit carried on through J.Cole’s music.”
You can see the short film “Crooked Smile” below: