Hurricane Streets (1997): Morgan J. Freeman’s Sundance Film Fest Winner–Director and Audience Awards

Director (and actor) Morgan J. Freeman won both the Audience Award and the Director’s Award at the 1997 Sundance Film Fest for his first impressive feature, the edgy and hard-hitting Hurricane Streets (aka “Hurricane”).

Raw, personal and poignant, this coming-of-age tale centers on a teenager, who tries hard to do the right thing, while heavy odds are stacked against him, no matter what he does.

The protagonist, Marcus (splendidly played by Brendan Sexton III), is a 14-year-old growing up in a tough section of New York City. There is no authority figure in his life: Marcus’ father is dead, and his mother is in prison.

In the process of growing up, he discloses some family secrets, prime among which is his mother’s lying. She had told him that she was sent to jail for helping to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States, but in fact she was convicted of the murder of his dad.

Living with his grandmother, who works as a bartender, Marcus doesn’t get much in the way of guidance, and he soon falls in with a group of kids who ride bikes, hang out, and engage in petty crime (stealing for both the fun of it and some profit). Marcus and his new friends shoplift CDs and sneakers and then sell them in the schoolyard.

Soon, however, the other kids bring up the idea of pulling bigger thefts for bigger profits, At first, Marcus is resistant, but the decision isn’t entirely his to make. One of Marcus’ few friends who wants him to go straight is Melena (Isidra Vega), who is growing up with a strong value system despite being raised in an abusive home, and the movie draws interesting parallels and contrasts between the two youngsters.

Running time: 90 Minutes.

Directed By: Morgan J. Freeman

 November 17, 1998

MGM Home Entertainment