In this emotional short, two men, unprepared to raise kids, contemplate if they will take on their niece and nephew’s rearing.

Director(s) Victor Gabriel
Screenplay By Victor Gabriel
Date Released 1/20/2022
Where To Watch Film Festival (Sundance Film Festival)
Genre(s) Drama, Young Adult, Family
Duration 14 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Cast
Hallelujah Stephen Thomas
Leroy Damon Rutledge
Sheray Maelina Gibson
Chetty Richard Nevels
Paper Bruce Lemon
Lila Mariah Pharms

Film Summary

13-year-old Hallelujah is a weird kid. Thanks to his dad, Leroy, he is well-read, and add in his mother, Sheray was a bookworm and also eccentric too? It makes the idea of Chetty and Paper, Leroy’s younger brothers, being tasked with raising Hallelujah and his 7-year-old sister Lila a lot to take on. After all, Chetty and Paper don’t have kids, lack the stability these kids need, but this is their brother’s seed and his baby girl. So, the question is, are they ready to grow up, or will they hope someone else is ready for the task?

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.


13-year-old Elijah is a unique kid to many. He is well-read, different from others kids one may find in Compton, and a bit of an anomaly to his uncles. Yet, he is his father and mother’s son, no doubt about that.


Leroy was the rock in his brothers’ lives. He may not have raised them like his own, but he was a role model for them.


Sheray was Leroy’s match and partner with whom he saw eye to eye on many things. Though, she seems a bit more hopeful for the fate of their kids than him.


Like Paper, Chetty’s upbringing wasn’t easy, and life hasn’t really been better since becoming an adult. However, he is trying to make a way.


By the way he acts, you would think Paper is the baby of his brothers and definitely one who isn’t necessarily looking to grow up anytime soon. But with two kids looking at him to potentially step up, he may decide it is finally time.


While 7 years of age, Lila is intelligent like her brother and parents. She may not cite books from memory like her brother, but her emotional intelligence can not be understated, and it could be seen as the salve that saved her brother’s life.

Other Noteworthy Information

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing, Depiction of Suicide Attempt, Gun Violence (No dead bodies shown or blood)



It Knows How To Bring You To The Point Of Tears, Then Insert A Laugh Without Undercutting The Situation

Laughing to keep from crying is a motto in many Black households, and for some, it is even a lifestyle. In Hallelujah, as we watch the title character struggle with the events that have led his uncles to become his possible guardians, we see this trauma response in action. We watch as a boy, while citing from a book he read, try to use a hose to hang himself.

But, following that, so comes the lowkey jokes of his uncles using ebonics, Lila making faces to make her brother feel better, and you getting flashbacks of Leroy and Sheray arguing the versatility of corn flakes. In some ways, you could easily find this mind-boggling how the transition from dark topics to comedic moments happen, but what Hallelujah captures is part of the Black experience regarding survival tools. For to dwell on all the terrible things that happen in our lives, neighborhoods, to our families, that would be the end of us. So while we can’t push everything down and avoid it, many of us have found a way to process our trauma through jokes and laughter, for by putting a buoyant spin on tragedy, it lightens our load.

Which, through Chetty and Paper’s handling of their nephew’s suicide attempt and being tasked with raising two kids, you get a taste of.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

It’s always a strange thing, when you watch a slew of movies, shorts, and TV episodes to get emotional while watching something. For just as you think you have built up a callous to urban dramas, kids dealing with negative emotions, and things like that, then comes productions like Hallelujah, which cleanse your mental palette. Ultimately reminding you that, while you may liken yourself numb to a type of story or experience, that was because of how other people told the story. There are many who, like Gabriel, can put their own spin and put you right back in that vulnerable state you thought was no longer possible.

Hence the recommendation for Hallelujah pursues honesty in dialog and in showing us Black people, even when from the same family and area, aren’t a monolith, it works on more levels than many may give it credit for.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 
Movie Poster - Hallelujah
Hallelujah (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
If you are someone who likes the idea of families coming together after tragedy, with said family members being opposites of each other, yet reliant on one another just the same? This is for you – especially if you like getting emotional.
It Knows How To Bring You To The Point Of Tears, Then Insert A Laugh Without Undercutting The Situation

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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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