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Scope of Practice

Journalist Kevin Cook’s recent book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America, raised some hackles for debunking the popular understanding of that gruesome murder 50 years ago in which 38 neighbors supposedly ignored the screams for help of a woman as she was raped and stabbed to death. But Cook misses the point. The story captured the world’s attention, and lives on in our minds, because it made us all think what we would have done in that situation: Like it or not, it forced a lot of people to consider that they might be one of those people who “didn’t want to get involved.”

Buffalo State graduate Brandyn T. Williams confronts a similar question in his debut film, Scope of Practice. Growing up, he witnessed instances of domestic abuse in his own family. As a young man, he knew that a friend was in such a situation from which no one, least of all the victim herself, seemed to be able to extricate her.

In the film, Derek (Chris Barbis) is a newly hired emergency medical technician. His first day on the job brings him to the home of a popular local athlete whose wife Emma (Arlynn Knauff) has fallen down the stairs. It looks more to him like a case of spousal abuse. Asking around, he’s let in on an open secret: No one wants to arrest a star football player who gives lots of money to charity and maintains a high public profile. Just look the other way, he is advised. But what if you can’t do that?

Sharply filmed on a minimal budget with a local crew and actors, the 33-minute movie suggests that difficult situations do not offer easy answers. It will have its premiere screening at 5pm his Sunday at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, followed by a Q&A with Williams. Tickets are $5 and are available at the box office.

Watch the trailer for Scope of Practice

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