Black Cop, a new film premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, dives headfirst into what filmmaker Cory Bowles describes as the fundamental "conundrum" of being a black police officer.
Drawing from the "horrible phenomenon of young men being carded and tensions between police and race relations," Bowles created a film that centres on an unnamed black police officer who flips the narrative of black people being profiled by white officers on its head.
The protagonist, played by Toronto's Ronnie Rowe Jr., undergoes a traumatic experience at the hands of white police officers while he is off-duty that "pushes him over the edge," said Bowles in an interview on Metro Morning.
That event sets the stage for scenes like the one in which Rowe's characters pulls over a white jogger in an affluent neighbourhood on the grounds that he is looking for a person who is fleeing a crime scene.
"Eventually it turns into a much darker moment, things escalate of course," said Bowles, who said he made the film out of "necessity and instinct."
Rowe, who said his character begins as a "very committed individual" who "believes in justice," said that he drew from personal experiences to tap into the frustration and anger of the role.
"It was interesting, being a black man and having experienced being profiled at times, I could reach into some truth because it hurt," he said on Monday.
Rowe remembered being pulled over for "looking at a police officer," describing the experience as "infuriating."
Ultimately, he said, his goal in the film was to add a new perspective to the conversation, "presenting a different point of view that everybody might not have considered."
Bowles agreed: "At the end of it all, it's a human that has gone through some trauma."