Terminal Romanticism

Grab your baggage and stick around for the show at Oakland International.


A young man arriving at Oakland International Airport spots an attractive young woman while claiming his baggage and instantly falls in love. He approaches her to try to make some sort of contact, but she’s oblivious to him and moves on, hopping on a city bus. The young man, juggling his bags, pursues her even though he doesn’t really know her name. Her “Oakland” necklace is his main clue. He ends up trailing the elusive “Oakland” — stalking isn’t exactly the word, maybe “love-smitten quest” — all over the city of Oakland by taxi, bus, BART, and on foot through Montclair, Jack London Square, Chinatown, West Oakland’s 7th Street, and we glimpse the chase on split screen, her on one side, him on the other. As their paths cross the city, strange things happen to the landscape. The walls of buildings suddenly become transparent and we’re tempted to follow the story threads we see inside. But the quixotic quest hurries on.

This romantic comedy meet-cute at the airport is coming to a venue near you, but not at the local movie house. Instead, Oakland B Mine, a twelve-minute short by Mateen Kemet, is set to play continuously on the walls of the Southwest baggage claim area at OAK. Kemet’s film, shot on Super 16 film, is part of a public art project sponsored by the Port of Oakland and the Oakland Museum of California. Although three other artists are showing their videos and installations at the terminal nearby, Kemet’s is the only narrative piece.

On the phone from his home in Oakland, Kemet explained that Oakland B Mine is more than a routine project for him — it’s a tribute to his adopted city of fifteen years. The 42-year-old teacher and filmmaker has followed his muse ever since getting hooked on the classics (Sunset Boulevard, Spike Lee, Charles Burnett) while growing up in the South Bronx. He’s made documentaries, narratives (including a political “police horror” story called Profile), commercials, and music vids. “I try to infuse the African diaspora into my work,” said Kemet, “and also a deliberate, literal color palette.” In 2007, he took part in Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett’s On the Lot filmmaking competition and finished seventh. But now he’s trying to raise enough money to finish Oakland B Mine. After applying for 39 grants, Kemet needs $6,500 to match a specific grant and complete post-production work in time for the short to be installed at the airport in September. Want to know more? Visit: RunawayFilmworx.com