Travon Free Came Up With Idea for Oscar-Winning Film at George Floyd Protest

Travon Free during acceptance speech at the 2021 Oscars. Side-by-side image from George Floyd protests in summer 2020. Travon Free photo credit: Getty Images for A.M.P.A.S

Filmmaker Travon Free drew inspiration for his Oscar-winning short film, Two Distant Strangers, at the protests last summer following George Floyd’s death.

During an appearance on Ellen Tuesday for the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death, the director and screenwriter said he got the idea for the film while protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of police last summer, as well as the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

“As a Black person you go through this cycle of emotions to process these things. And I found myself going through that cycle for these three different people and they were overlapping, and it just felt like living the worst version of Groundhog Day,” Free told host Ellen DeGeneres. “When I had that thought, it was just something that just stuck with me and I felt like I had to do something with it.”

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Two Distant Strangers tells the story of a Black man who wants to get home to his dog, but keeps getting shot dead by a white police officer. The day keeps repeating itself over and over again.

Free told DeGeneres the short film was his first time directing and that he wrote the script in just five days.

Free went on to win an Oscar for best live-action short film last month with his co-director Martin Desmond Roe. In his acceptance speech, Free said he wanted to draw attention to police brutality.

The full interview airs on Ellen on Tuesday.

Two Distant Strangers is currently streaming on Netflix.