According to the NY Daily News, shoot-outs, drugs and sex are front-and-center in “Toddlers” -- made in Harlem using local kids reportedly as young as 12-years old.
The Daily News reports that anti-violence activists are now poised to boycott the video store selling the DVD but the film's director insists he's merely telling the truth about his neighborhood:
Director Termaine (M5) Brown insisted he's not promoting gun violence, just showing a harsh reality.
"That's what's going on, I'm just showing it," Brown told the Daily News. "You hear about these murders, but people don't see how it happens. I show how these incidents happen. These are real life situations.
"The parents don't get to see what these kids are really doing," said Brown, 29, who was raised in Harlem and shot many scenes on W. 147th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam two summers ago.
The DVD cover features a chubby-cheeked kid holding a gun. In the one-minute trailer, posted on YouTube, kids are brandishing guns; a girl is kidnapped by thugs and a man is shot in the head.
The plot of the movie reportedly centers around the lead character, Pito, played by 14-year-old Jordan Pena. Pena turns to a life of crime after his drug-dealing father is killed.
Pito, once a promising baseball player, purchases guns with his newfound drug money. He and his friends gun down anyone who gets in their way.
Pena, who said his first-time in front of the camera was a "great experience," insisted the movie doesn't promote violence.
"It promotes how to turn into a man; how to take care of a family," said Pena, now 16. "It promotes how life is out here. It's definitely reality."
Disturbingly, Pena said that playing the role of Pito wasn't difficult at all as it was "like playing my life."
"It was basically me acting like myself. It wasn't hard at all. This was like playing my life," said Pena. "I was proud of myself for finishing the movie."
Pena added that his parents and grandmother were also proud of him for doing something "positive."
The trailer follows below. Caution, it contains graphic images: