Forgive Us Our Debts by Howard Mitchell: Addressing Social Unrest in Film

Forgive Us Our Debts by Howard Mitchell: Addressing Social Unrest in Film

Forgive Us Our Debts (2019), directed by Howard GATO Mitchell, tells the story of Trayvon, a Black adolescent. In an effort to protect his family, Trayvon hides bank notices threatening to take their home back. Unfortunately, police ultimately arrive at the home and order the family to leave.

This film demonstrates the complex relations between Black communities and law enforcement, and highlights how African Americans have been systematically disadvantaged economically in the United States. The displacement of families through gentrification is a political issue, and Forgive Us Our Debts shows us how the political can be intensely personal. Viewers become incredibly invested in the fate of this family, and adopt the naive hopefulness of Trayvon while simultaneously predicting the devastating outcome.

Film is a powerful tool for education and has the capability of sharing important messages with diverse audiences. As Mitchell writes,  “In these times that we live in, It’s impossible for American artists and filmmakers to not address the social unrest in our country without running the risk of being irrelevant and irresponsible.” Forgive Us Our Debts offers an example of how film can address such social unrest, and powerfully communicates a story about a young African American boy growing up in this country today.


Director: Howard Mitchell aka GATO
Cast: Jason Putnam, Dick McMahon, Jacques Allison, Jerald D. Rose, Luke B. Carlson, Jarret Addleman, Faith Smith, Mrs. Jackson
Writer: Howard Mitchell aka GATO
Producer: Howard Mitchell aka GATO
Year of Production: 2019
Runtime: 15 minutes
Language: English

By Corinne, 2020 American INSIGHT Intern, Scripps College 2021

Photo courtesy of Howard GATO Mitchell

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