Local film ‘Sons of Toledo’ premieres at Imagination Station

Short film follows the journey of a barber dealing with violence in the community.
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Imagination Station premiered local short film ‘Sons of Toledo’ Thursday night, a film that deals with the unique importance of the barbershop in the African American community.

“It was such an important event. It allowed us to show the barbershop community. Allow to see them on stage doing what they do best, telling stories and doing hair,” says Monty Cole, the film’s producer.

According to the crew, the city’s barbers play a vital role. And loss is something that barbers deal with often. The film was born out of a conversation with ProMedica’s Barbershop Health Program, which partners with Toledo barbershops to provide health education to African American men. The barbers told the program about having to give boys in the community their final haircuts because they are dying due to violence.

“I had to go through this not even two months ago. I had been cutting his hair for six or seven years. His mother reached out to me to cut his hair. It was very difficult,” says Tawann Gaston, a barber.

“Our cities barbers are incredible in how they are advocated for the youth. ... They are a gathering point for what best and also the places where the most hurt and urgent need may be,” says the film writer, Dr. Matt Foss.

“It’s personal for me because I don’t want to have to tell another black parent, brother, sister, child, that my people just found them dead in the street,” says Toledo Fire Chief Brian Byrd.

The film’s creators hope it has a lasting effect in the community.

“I think it’s one thing for us to talk about it in barbershops, in our homes, in our communities. It’s another thing for us to do anything about it. A lot of time art can inspire people to action and that what we’re trying to do,” says Cole.

Additional screening of the film will be held at the Momentum Festival on Friday and Saturday.

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