FANTASIA 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! LeRoy is a young man armed with a broken 35mm camera in Richard Raymond and Curt Zacharias Jr.’s short film A Million Eyes. Leroy (Elijah M. Cooper) sees his small world of East Lake, Georgia in a profoundly personal way. The busted-up buildings surrounding him, each has a story to tell, and he sees those stories through the beat-up camera he carries with him at all time.
At the end of his walk this day, he’s at a local bar and bears responsibility for his single-parent family as he escorts his mother, Amber (Katie Lowes), home safely. Leroy finds solace in his room as it is wallpapered with photographs he’s collected from books and newspapers. He wishes he had a million eyes to send around the world to see everything: people, pets, nature, and so on.
The next day he comes across the home of an older gentleman, Fern (Joe Morton). Hearing the snap of Leroy’s camera, Fern attempts to engage in a conversation about photography, but Leroy runs off in a panic.
“…each has a story to tell, and he sees those stories through the beat-up camera…”
Leroy then enters the local bookstore and is arrested for cutting out photos from the books for his collection. In prison, his cellmate Pyro (Shareef Salahuddin) is an artist and encourages Leroy to find his muse, when he’s released from prison.
A Million Eyes is about a young man finding himself while living in this tough Atlanta suburb. The short highlights the importance of arts as a means of expression as well as the value of teens finding mentors to guide them down the path of life. In a way, the themes of A Million Eyes is meant to plant seeds of hope in the lives of our at-risk youth that will blossom into adulthood. The story itself is about finding one’s voice…one’s story to tell.
Since this is a film about photography, the short itself is beautifully composed. The small town features several historic homes along with the beaten-up building from a time gone by and they are presented as more than historic and beaten-up. Elijah M. Cooper is engaging and charismatic as the soft-spoken Leroy. He’s also surrounded by equally good performances by Morton as his photography mentor and Katie Lowes as his supportive mother with a few demons of her own. A Million Eyes is subtle in its sweetness and you’ll find inspiration in its story.
"…Cooper is engaging and charismatic as the soft-spoken Leroy"