Director Luke Galati’s newest documentary, SMOKEYSWRLD, follows the journey of Kymahni Bent, a highly touted basketball prospect striving for a Division I scholarship at a US college.
Bent is a longtime resident of Toronto’s Regent Park community and speaks about his upbringing in the film, as well as coping with the murder of his brother, Jahvante Smart.
Smart was known professionally as the emerging Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg, who was shot and killed in broad daylight in the city’s downtown core in 2018.
The 21-year-old was about to release his debut album prior to his death, and was viewed as one of the city’s rising talents in the hip hop industry.
While Smart and Bent are prominent names throughout Regent Park and the city as a whole, Galati wanted to focus on their identities beyond the music, basketball and headlines.
“A lot of people know about Smoke Dawg through his music, and maybe people don’t necessary know him as a family person,” said Galati. “That was something I definitely wanted to tell, and get behind Kymahni’s story and that brotherly love because it is a story I did not know about before really getting to know Kymahni.”
Galati’s focus also centres on the challenges in Bent’s basketball path brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Bent prepped for his AAU year to put his game on display for college scouts in 2020, the season was cancelled by the outbreak of the pandemic.
Despite the setback, Bent continues to develop his skillset and maintain hope that he can play basketball at the next level collegiately.
Through these challenges, audiences become familar with Bent’s personal relationships with his siblings, mother and coach, and his ties to his community.
“I think as a storyteller and someone who tell’s people’s stories, if the stories I’m telling don’t get told to that community, it would be a huge shame,” he said. “I want my stories to be able to be told to the communities these stories are from, and I think the Regent Park film festival is a great way for stories to be told that don’t get much attention, or are different from traditional narratives through media.”
SMOKEYSWRLD is part of the Faces of Resistance series for the 2021 Regent Park Film Festival, running from Nov.25 to Dec.2 this year.
Galati’s other works include Eastern, a full-length documentary about the Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute, its prestigous basketball program and the school’s closure in 2015. The basketball program famously produced former NBA all-star and current Toronto Raptors basketball development consultant, Jamaal Magloire.
More info on Luke Galati’s work can be found here.