Filmmaker makes memorable debut with ‘Blessings’

“Don’t Block Your Blessings,” a short film by Darius Aubry, is about an elderly Black woman with Alzheimer’s who wandered off from her family and is later discovered by a passing motorist en route to his job. He stayed with her until her family arrived and was unexpectedly rewarded for his good deed.

Aubry, a writer/director/producer from Oakland, Calif., submitted his short to this year’s Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) and was present as his film was shown during the four-day event last month. “I’m glad that we picked the film,” said TCBFF Founder-Director Natalie Morrow during a post-film Q&A.  

“Blessings” stars Jordan Rielly, who formerly lived in Minneapolis, and Tonie Bisby Griffith.  The film’s climax tugs on the viewer’s emotional heartstrings.

“I wrote the film,” noted Aubry. “It was based on an event that happened. I’m the person that actually pulled over. I was driving down the street [and the] woman was sitting there [on the curb]. Something just spoke to me and told me to pull over.

PPhoto by Charles Hallman Darius Aubry

 “I stepped up and spoke with her,” he continued, “and everything just kind of unfolded that way.”

Rielly via FaceTime also spoke to the audience, where his mother was in attendance: “I was crying the whole time I was watching the movie,” said the actor. “I want to say thank you to Darius to allow me to be a part of this project. You have such a big heart. 

“I wasn’t there in person but I’m there in spirit,” said Rielly.

Afterward, Aubry spoke to the MSR. He started his Oakland Films, a full-service production company, in 2021. “Blessings” is the first production out of his company.

“It was just an amazing project,” said Aubry. “The way that everything came together was such a beautiful experience, and right in the middle of the pandemic. We had zero in-person rehearsals” and had to resort to conducting them on Zoom,” he pointed out. “We shot in three days.” 

The filmmaker said he got the film bug back in the 1990s. “When I was younger,” said Aubry, “I had no real interest or never thought about filmmaking as a career because I grew up in Oakland. Growing up, there were no filmmakers in Oakland that I knew of, so I never thought about it as an occupation.”

As a result, Aubry became a tradesman, but all that changed when he moved to Los Angeles and got reacquainted with an old friend named F. Gary Gray. “We hung out together in our late teens. So, once he started making films, I worked with him for a while.” He worked with Gray as a personal assistant on “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey.

From then on, Aubry said, he did whatever he could to “absorb as much as you can about filmmaking. I would do whatever I had to do, work on the weekends, work for free, and just learn, learn and learn.”

Among his experience gained over the years, Aubry worked as a PA (production assistant) on other films, worked as an assistant stage manager on BET’s “L.A. Live,” as a PA on the movie “Baby Boy,” and directed several music videos, later taking filmmaking classes at Santa Monica College (2017-19).

His next project, Aubry said, is also based on a real life event. “I wrote a film about an incident that happened in Los Angeles probably about eight years ago,” he said of an incident involving the police and witnessed by a young child who was home from school that day.

For more information on “Don’t Block Your Blessings,” go to www.oaklandfilms.com/don-t-block-your-blessings

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