The 21st Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival 2013 is currently running through Feb. 18, 2013. "Gang Girl: A mother's journey to save her daughter," is the true life documentary film of a mother who comes to the realization that her baby girl, Nafeesa "Toney," has entered the dangerous life of gang banging in a well known gang of Los Angeles. Valerie Goodloe, a devout Muslim finds deeper meaning to her belief system than religion. As she struggles to accept the harsh realities of her youngest daughter's life choices she finds that love is the true basis of spirituality and sets out in hopes of steering her daughter away from a lifestyle that could ultimately take her freedoms and/or life. In the process Valerie unravels twists, turns, and also her niche and purpose.
Before talking with Valerie I observed her from a distance, appearing quiet and shy, she almost disappears under her obvious combination of Muslim and African motif. Head covering, no makeup, and extremely mild and almost monotone in response, her character shows almost no interest, except for her eyes. At first glance her eyes seem to betray only deep pain and hardship. Yet, once speaking with her those translucent sea green/blue eyes begin to sparkle and dance at the mere mention of her family and film. That passion comes through vividly in "Gang Girl."
Those eyes work well with her to tell the story of her family's life journey. Seemingly she transforms from black and white to rich colors, more importantly she emerges as someone so familiar to us all, a loving and caring spouse, parent, citizen, and individual that rolls with the punches and never gives up hope.
This film is excellent and definitely stands a great chance of winning multiple awards. It's easy to forget this film is a documentary and get lost in the drama, love, and action. "Gang Girl" is a must see and hopefully viewers get the unique opportunity to meet and talk with notable Photographer and filmmaker, Valerie Goodloe.
Valerie worked as a postal carrier for 23 years in Compton, Calif. when she had an epiphany. She then left the post office and went to photography school. After completing school her career in photography and film making blossomed quickly. Now working for Ebony and Jet Magazines, she has photographed many famous figures to include: Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Kyla Pratt, Janet Jackson, Penelope Cruz, and many more. Valerie is currently married to her second husband, LeMonde Goodloe and has two daughters, one son, and one grandchild. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she plans to continue providing services that cater to at risk female youth in the community as she explains that especially Black and Hispanic female youth continue to be under-served, yet the growth of the two demographic continue to grow in number by leaps in the gang community.
Well known figures, Councilman Bernard Parks and Maxine Waters also star in this film.