50 Years of SIFF: Fresh


USA | 1994 | 114 min. | Boaz Yakin

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50 Years of SIFF

Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a 12-year-old drug dealer who finds himself trapped in a web of poverty, corruption and racial tension in Brooklyn, New York. When his drug-addict sister Nichole (N'Bushe Wright) starts sleeping with local drug lord Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito), Fresh calls upon the skills he learned playing chess with his alcoholic father and speed-chess champion Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) and devises a complex strategy that will free both himself and his sister. FOOLS* CHOICE.

Seattle International Film Festival 1994 selection.


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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

In the gritty urban landscape of 1994's Fresh, directed by Boaz Yakin, a 12-year-old prodigy named Michael, nicknamed Fresh, navigates the dangerous chessboard of life in Brooklyn. Raised in a world rife with crime and corruption, Fresh employs his strategic mind not only in chess games but also in a high-stakes game of survival. 

Haunted by the violence that surrounds him, Fresh becomes entangled in the criminal underworld ruled by his estranged father and a drug lord. In a desperate bid for autonomy and a chance at a better life, Fresh orchestrates a complex plan that blurs the lines between innocence and complicity. As he maneuvers through betrayal and deception, the film explores themes of resilience, morality, and the cost of pursuing a brighter future in the face of adversity. 

With stellar performances from a talented cast, including a young Sean Nelson in the titular role, Fresh stands as a gripping and thought-provoking drama that delves into the harsh realities of inner-city life while offering a compelling portrayal of a young boy's fight for self-determination.

*The Fool Serious group (or “Fools”) is a group of fanatical cinephiles that gather throughout the Festival. The name is a play on the “Full Series” Festival pass, which they all purchase year after year.

  • Director: Boaz Yakin
  • Principal Cast: Sean Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito N’Bushe Wright
  • Country: USA, France
  • Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 114 min.
  • Producer: Lawrence Bender, Randy Ostrow
  • Screenplay: Boaz Yakin
  • Cinematographers: Adam Holender
  • Editors: Dorian Harris
  • Music: Stewart Copeland
  • Filmography: A Price Above Rubies (1998), Remember the Titans (2000), Death in Love (2008), Safe (2012), Max (2015), Boarding School (2018), Aviva (2020), The Harder They Fall (2021)
  • Language: English, Spanish

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