The doc-style film T follows three participants of the 50th Annual T Ball in which community members of one of Miami’s most violent inner city zones assemble to model wildly innovative “R.I.P.” T-shirts designed to honor their deceased loved ones. Set in a dystopian, mega-surveilled Miami 40 years into the future, T is a meditation on the absurd, foundational culture of death and destruction that is sadly widely accepted in Miami’s black inner city, a condition which parallels with our drowning city as sea levels rise. Forsaken man and nature paralleled.This short whirlwind of surveillance drones, absurd costuming and the increasing threat of heightened racial violence tugs on the futurism of Mad Max, parodied racial themes of Bamboozled and the dark satire and aesthetic of Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb… all set in Liberty City.
We first meet Dimples Dean, 63, a spunky widow who lost her son Jasper, 27, a few years back. She cohabitates with her partner in a small, quaint Miami home. As a professor of Literature, seamstress and self-proclaimed savior of the world anointed upon the passing of her son, her home serves as a perfectly strange launching pad for the various characters’ idiosyncrasies.
Next is Ash, 28, a rebellious and angry member of a seemingly peaceful and orderly African Himba tribe sub-culture. Ash straddles the line between thug and misguided, aimless rebel. Do we like him? Do we hate him? With his capped aggression, the heightened surveillance monitoring makes for a tension-filled interview.
Tahir, 18, who lost his twin sister, Isis, lives as a single child with his obsessively protective father. As an introverted, quiet type, he delves more into philosophy than the topic of the day. As he shares his astonishingly inspired design concept with us, we are also confronted by a bitter father still in mourning.
T Ball Abstract Design Concepts
Our characters converge at the Ball, where they, as well as other community members not yet seen, model their extraordinary getups that are each designed on a basic, black T-shirt. Featured in spurts are a T-shirt that projects a hologram of the deceased, a transparent couture gown trailing from the eyes of the participant and the image of the deceased made of teardrops, and so on. Dimples designs a shirt from which extends towering, ornate wings made of metallic potato chips bags, her deceased son’s favorite snack. Ash's questionable fate unfolds as well, with his sudden disappearance.
We end with the closing performance by Tahir, who wears a blank black T-shirt and, underneath, a suit of veins that burst into light. His movements appear as shards of red and blue. We see him with multiple arms as Kali the Destroyer. As the Vitruvian Man. As Michael Jackson. Or Prince. He slowly coalesces into an emanating purple orb that bathes the hypnotized faces of all the participants. And in the corner, Dimples Dean, whose eyes glow .
What we are left with is loss, legacy and decay––all serving as a dizzying speculation on humanity at its most traumatized, and possibly the supernatural resurrection of the divine feminine.
Historical Reference Images