What Really Matters spins the tale of a young, black college student, Hailey Simmons, who stands against civil injustice only to find herself incarcerated and the target of a secret law enforcement campaign against her. A generational element in the story conflicts with Hailey as her immediate family advises her to keep a low profile while her grandfather recounts his experience protesting during the civil uprisings of the 1960s. It’s safe to say that the film offers no “one size fits all” solution to activism or social change but instead focuses on the personal turmoil of a character confronted with multiple perspectives. In the end, it works out for Hailey as she chooses to honor her own inner guidance in the face of oppression.
The film’s cinematographer, Javier Armijo, laments the need to bring a story like this to light, but also appreciates the opportunity. “There’s nothing new about racial oppression and resistance to change. This story is an attempt to grapple with big issues by revealing their impact on a single individual. We must press on, but not just for the sake of protest and making noise. Inequality is institutionalized. The point is to initiate broad changes in policy, in law. Only then can we hope to shift our collective attention to renewed national aims.”
Armijo goes on to recount the process of making the film and shares his gratitude for the acknowledgement it received, having won the Audience Choice Award at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in 2019. “We shot the film over several weekends with a very dedicated cast and crew. The film’s director, William Bright, brought me on board after having collaborated on a few other projects. He’s methodical and focused, willing to let people bring their talents without reservation and at the same time able to reign it all together. I appreciate that. We all need a little freedom because there’s no shortage of challenges on set. They come up all the time. That’s what I enjoy so much about filmmaking – it’s a multi-layered set of challenges solved with technical skill and aesthetic perception simultaneously.” Written by columnist, professor and author Anthony Samad,
What Really Matters on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7524518/
DP Javier Armijo on the set of What Really Matters with Director, William Bright.