St. Louis filmmaker Bruce Carlton Cunningham Jr.

St. Louis filmmaker Bruce Carlton Cunningham Jr.

Telling stories about life in a real, raw way is how St. Louis filmmaker Bruce Carlton Cunningham Jr. approaches his work. Rather than watering down narratives, Cunningham sees the beauty in focusing on plots that resonate with him and his North St. Louis and North St. Louis county roots.

His feature-length film “UN-RESOLVED” premieres in St. Louis Aug. 25-31 at St. Louis Galleria 6 Cinemas and Aug. 31-Sept. 6 at MX Movies & Bar. He is directing and starring in the film.

The film’s official website's description reads, “An ex-convict, just released from prison, attempts to make up for the lost time with his youngest daughter, who is dying, and to reconnect with his oldest daughter, who has befriended a deadly enemy from his past.  As he attempts to do right by his children and start a new, quieter life, the pull of the streets and fate have other plans.”

Cunningham was inspired to write the concept behind UN-RESOVLED in 2007. He wrote a short (a condensed film in a small running timeframe) in 2007 and wrote the sequel for it in 2008.

Six years later in 2014 he attempted to write a longer film, but shelved the idea after not getting the results he wanted. He went back to the drawing board and started writing scripts for a feature-length film. From there he had auditions and went into production afterwards.

“I think that 2014 failure was necessary,” he said. “It had to happen or else I wouldn’t have made a feature length. I thank God that I did have that failure so it could be more than I expected it to be.”

Cunningham shot UN-RESOLVED in St. Louis with scenes spreading out to University City, O’Fallon Park, Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood, The Ville, other places of North St. Louis city and scenes in North St. Louis County.

He noticed studio films that were often filmed in St. Louis always showed scenes of The Arch from the viewpoint of East St. Louis, and mainly shot scenes of South St. Louis near The Hill and St. Louis City scenes in the Central West End.

He felt it was imperative to show the side of St. Louis that he and many others grew up with.

“I wanted to show where we grew up, what we see on a daily basis,” he said. “Other films might show things south of Delmar, but I’m showing north of Delmar where we grew up, especially St. Louis city [the north side]. There are a lot of spots a lot of us grew up in. These are spots where our families grew up, what resonates with us. Our memories are in these locations so why not put it there.”

Along with UN-RESOLVED being filmed in St. Louis, majority of the cast and crew is also from St. Louis and East St. Louis.

Elizabeth Mccormick, one of the leading actresses, is a firefighter for St. Louis Fire Department. Cunningham’s daughter Harmoni Marie also plays his daughter in the film.

The film you guessed it features St. Louis artists including DaVyne Truth who serves as the film’s music supervisor, Valencia Rush, Tommo, and more. Andrew Asemokai based out of Dallas, TX, did the film’s score.

Cunningham grew up in north St. Louis for quite some time until his mother decided to move him and his brother to North county for a better life.

“She didn’t want us getting caught up in that gang life,” he said. “As a Black mother raising two Black boys that can be impressionable and a lot of people went the street route, she didn’t want that for us because people were getting killed in the neighborhood. To avoid getting that phone call or that experience, she looked after our best interest, moving us out of that environment to a new environment.”

Cunningham became fascinated by film as a kid growing up in the 1980s. He remembers watching two movies in particular over and over in 1984 that inspired his film career. Those two films were “Legend” starring Tom Cruise and Berry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon”.

“Watching those two films over and over inspired me to do this,” he said. “The 80s had a lot of content that inspired me to want to act and make movies.”

As he got older, he did theater in elementary school, took acting classes at Hazelwood Central High School and studied film in college.

He received his bachelor's degree in video and film production with a minor in theatre from Missouri Western State University and received his masters in information technology from Lindenwood University.

“I study the greats and I don’t reinvent the wheel, I just duplicate it somewhat,” he said. “I have my own styles, but what helps me to create is music. I like all types of genres because certain pieces of music might spark a theme in my head. I continue to listen to that particular piece of music over and over and over again for years and keep that scene in my head until I’m ready to write it.”

Learn more about UN-RESOLVED, here:

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