Project type: Narrative Short
Project status: Development
Writer/Director: Chester Vincent Toye
Executive Producer: Hank Willis Thomas
Producer: Anne Alexander
Cinematographer: Adam Gundersheimer
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A wide-eyed art handler and a naïve young art student receive a surreal introduction to the absurdity of the fine art world while delivering a racially charged work of art.


Middle Passage Fine Art Shipping & Logistics founder Arnold and his new hire Joe, head to Brooklyn to pick up a controversial artwork from artist Fred Rawlings’s studio space. Fred’s assistant, Jerome struggles to locate the artwork in Fred’s disorganized storage area. After much searching, Jerome finally locates the work and unboxes the sculpture revealing a diamond-encrusted noose. Shocked by the artwork, Jerome takes several moments to gather himself before resuming inspecting the piece and preparing it for transport.

Arnold and Joe arrive at Fred’s studio and pack the boxed artwork into their truck. While Joe is unaware of the contents of the box that he’s handling, Arnold notices the label “Hangtime” and shakes his head to himself. With the sculpture safely packed in their truck, Arnold and Joe head to Montclair, New Jersey to deliver the sculpture to its new home, the Smith Estate.

Naive and oblivious to the normalized absurdities of the art world, Joe is completely unprepared for the events that unfold during his first day on the job.

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Meet the Filmmakers

Chester Vincent Toye — Writer/Director

Chester Toye is an interdisciplinary artist working in film, performance, photography, video, and installation to work through the complexities and incommensurabilities of (in)visibility, race, labor, and commodification. He received an MFA in Photography from UCLA and studies improv at Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles. With a background in portrait photography Chester has always had an interest in the complexity of representation employs screenwriting and directing to add additional dimensions to the stories that he wants to tell. He has worked closely with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and experimental filmmaker Stanya Kahn. Growing up he was a standout athlete eventually playing Division 1 lacrosse at Lehigh University. His path to filmmaking has been far from traditional and he is grateful for the range of experiences, relationships, and perspectives that he is able to bring to his films.

Hank Willis Thomas – Executive Producer

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective identity, commodity, media and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. His collaborative projects include Question Brigade: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), and For Freedoms, the first artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement. In 2017, For Freedoms was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), the Soros Equality Fellowship, and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission.

Anne Alexander – Producer

Anne Alexander is a Brooklyn based producer, director and founding partner of Cousins production studio. Recently her short film What’s In a Pronoun screened at Cannes Lions in 2019 and at the 2020 Damn These Heels LGBTQ Film Festival hosted by the Utah Film Center and Jazzberry (dir. Maxwell Nalevansky), a short film she produced starring Samantha Robinson, was an official selection at the 2020 Newfest Festival. She is currently also in production on a documentary short for the WNBA and the narrative-documentary feature Nosferasta with support from Cinereach and the UK based galleries GasWorks and Spike Island.

Adam Gundersheimer – Cinematographer

After an obsessive foray into photography, Adam graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2011 with a concentration in cinematography. He has been the cinematographer on over one hundred short films, music videos, documentaries, and commercial projects. Adam’s films have screened at numerous festivals including: SXSW, Telluride, and Palm Springs. Adam is dedicated to finding the aesthetic that best expresses a project’s vision, and seeks to amplify quiet voices and unheard stories.


For inquiries, please contact fiscalsponsorship@filmindependent.org.