This month the talented young artist Jonathan Malik Martin celebrates his directorial debut in the new video for the latest expression of singer/songwriter Milck titled SomebodyÛªs Beloved. Set in his home town of Memphis, Tennessee, Malik brings all of his storytelling skills to bear in this subtly powerful narrative that depicts the personal devastation brought on by the shattering impact of gun violence in the Black community.
The remarkable vision of the photojournalist known as Malik Tha Martian, first came to my attention through Instagram. Like many avid users of the platform I was attracted by the raw and visceral imagery he captured during the social justice protests that blazed across the nation through the summer of 2020. His photographs reveal the deep human emotion of people in Memphis as they gathered in solidarity to stand against the continuing presence of institutional racism and a community plagued by racially motivated police violence. Naturally I was a fan. But in addition to his work on the streets of the neighborhood called Soulsville, MalikÛªs feed also includes exciting shots of urban sport climbing and sweeping landscapes set in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado.
As it happens Malik and I had crossed paths more than a year ago at the MountainFilm Festival in Telluride. Though we hadnÛªt met at the time, he was part of the cohort of young climbing enthusiasts brought to the event by director and film producer Tom Shadyack. This creator of high grossing movies starring Jim Carrey, like Ace Ventura Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty had used his wealth and influence to create a state of the art climbing gym in Tennessee called Memphis Rox. Set in the mostly Black Soulesville community, the gym is a center of culture and creativity where Malik and others are given the opportunity to express themselves through the sport of rock climbing, as well as photography and filmmaking.