In 2014, he was shot in an attempted carjacking in Milwaukee. In 2021, his story is hitting the film festival circuit

April 22, 2022

Courtesy: Chris Foran  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


While visiting Milwaukee for his high school reunion in 2014, Claude Motley was shot in the face during an attempted carjacking.

In the hospital, Motley tried to come to grips with what had happened to him, and with “the apathy” he saw about crime and its victims in the city he grew up in.

“You just get so frustrated that there is just no real system of attacking the situation, but just reacting to the situation,” Motley said in a recent interview.

After surgery, Motley recuperated at the house of his friend, Milwaukee filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein had been with Motley’s son, Seoul, when he learned his friend had been shot.

“I remembered just thinking to myself, the main thing is to tell him (Seoul) what happened but make sure he knows his dad is alive,” Lichtenstein recalled.

A prolific documentarian for two decades, Lichtenstein initially had no thought of making a movie about Motley’s horrifying experience. But he, Motley and Motley’s wife, Kim Motley, an international human rights attorney, began talking about how telling Claude’s story could shine much-needed light on issues of race and representation in Milwaukee.

So they decided to go for it.

“At that moment, we had no idea it would be a 5½-year filmmaking journey,” Lichtenstein said.

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