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A Mother's Reflection on Her Black Son's Death: 'There's Never Any Justice'

Sep 29, 2016 | 831 videos
Video by Even/Odd

Mario Woods was shot more than 20 times by San Francisco police in December of 2015. Months after his death, his mother, Gwen Woods, is trying to keep his memory alive. The documentary Happy Birthday Mario Woods centers around her attempts to both grieve and move forward. In a heartbreaking scene at her son’s grave, Woods describes some of her earliest thoughts: “I just remember thinking, ‘If I really wanted to hug my child, if I just started digging in to get down to the coffin, he's right under here.” San Francisco has become a backdrop for a larger civil rights movement, and the killings of young men and women of color have catalyzed the resignation of the city’s former police chief and a widely publicized protest by Colin Kaepernick. This film is part of a larger series by Mohammad Gorjestani and Malcolm Pullinger called The Happy Birthday Project, which profiles the communities of victims of recent police killings on their respective birthdays.

You can watch the first episode of the series, on Oscar Grant and Philando Castile’s birthdays, respectively, here and here. Gorjestani and Pullinger lead the production team at Even/Odd and more of their work can be seen at You can also follow Gorjestani on Twitter. The film was Executive Produced by Ephraim Walker and Andrew Coles, and supported by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and Blackout For Human Rights.

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Author: Nadine Ajaka

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.