Charm City Kings: Angel Manuel Soto’s Coming of Age Tale, Starring Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Sundance Fest 2020)

Sundance Film Fest 2020–Based on the documentary 12 O’Clock Boys, about a young boy who dreams of joining the same group of Baltimore dirt-bike riders his late brother used to ride with, Charm City Kings is a solid coming-of-age genre, boasting a star-making performance by Jahi Di’Allo Winston as 13-year-old Mouse.

Working with the “godfather of dirt biking” Wheelie Wayne, director Angel Manuel Soto hired real-life stunt riders like Chino, who plays Midnight Clique member Jamal, and Wheelie Queen, who plays Queen. Despite the fact that dirt biking is illegal in Baltimore, they’ve become internet stars.

“The criminalization of riding is an important conversation that we need to have,” Soto said. “Let’s give kids someone to look up to. Why do we want to make all [their heroes] criminals? At the beginning and at the end, you see that ‘no ball playing’ sign? That was there in the streets. We didn’t put that there. Imagine being a six-year-old who wants to play ball and the first thing they see outside is that it’s illegal. It’s that mentality that only happens in marginalized communities.”

Soto added, “Ninety-eight percent of the riders you see are stunt riders. Allowing them to do what they love gave them a new perspective. After this movie, a lot of them went on to do stunts for Bad Boys 3.  They felt like, ‘I can do something new with my life.’”

Will Smith, the star of Bad Boys 3, is one of the producers of Charm City Kings.