Paying homage to the 90s hip-hop legends, Bellringer is an aggressive stomper with hard-hitting lyrics and masterful storytelling bound up in a cinematic experience that explores liberation—and the personal and structural obstacles that prevent us from achieving it.
Blending live-action cinematography and experimental animations, Bellringer tells the story of Latasha Harlins, a Black 16-year-old whose murder by a Korean grocery store owner in 1991 served as a catalyst for the LA Riots in 1992. Her name, like that of many Black women, is often erased from discussions of the uprisings. The animated part of the film brings hand-painted scenes of Latasha's murder, funeral, and the ensuing Los Angeles riots to life. We also see the narrator of the story, Linqua Franqa, struggling with their own trauma in an empty sanctuary—presumably because everyone is out rioting instead of praying— wondering how the “grim reaper” will come for them. Will they be killed by white supremacist violence or by the coping mechanisms that they have developed in order to deal with the trauma of white supremacist violence? The answer comes in the last few seconds of the film.