Blood brothers: New film stars a reformed Fort Greene gang leader

The Brooklyn Paper
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It has a story that is gangbusters.

A movie shot in Brooklyn is based on the real life experiences of its star, a “five-star general” of the Bloods gang. But “Five Star” is not a gang film, says the man who inspired it.

“The film does not explore gang culture, and I want to correct, it is a brotherhood not a gang,” said James “Primo” Grant, who grew up in East Flatbush and joined the Bloods at age 12. “This film explores the choices of that lifestyle and shows you behind the stereotypes that we are regular people with families and live our lives like any other person.”

The film, opening July 24, blends fact and fiction to tell a coming-of-age tale about the relationship between a gang leader, based on Grant, and the teenage son of his dead mentor, who he takes under his wing.

The film’s writer and director said that he wanted to avoid the movie clichés about gangs.

“I was much more focused on making a movie about real people, with human issues and deal with them in an intimate way,” said Keith Miller, who has lived in Park Slope for the past 15 years.

The movie was filmed in Fort Greene in 2013, where Grant lived at the time.

“It was great,” said Miller. “Primo really knew the area and every one knew him, so that was a big help,” said Miller.

The two met in 2011 through mutual friend Shannon Harper, who starred in Miller’s first feature, “Welcome to Pine Hill.” Grant and Harper were both working as club bouncers, and both made their acting debuts in Miller’s films.

“I never shot a movie or filmed anything,” said Grant. “Filming with Keith was like chilling, no pressure. He was very respectful and did something that most people don’t do — he listened and did not judge.”

Grant hopes that audiences will be as open-minded.

“The most important thing to take away after watching this film is that we are all regular people, regardless of status, title and to not judge a person by what you might hear from someone else,” said Grant.

And though he recently moved out of Brooklyn, Grant said he still has love for the borough.

“Brooklyn is for tough loving real home of the hustlers, the go-getters, so much talent as well as the bad,” said Grant. “I have become who I am in Brooklyn.”

“Five Star” opens on July 24 at IFC Center in Manhattan [323 Sixth Ave., between W. Fourth and Bleecker streets, (212) 924-7771,]. $14. It will be available on iTunes on Aug. 4.

Updated 6:02 pm, July 26, 2015
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