trailer premiere: writer/filmmaker armani martin paints powerful portrait of black oppression in surreal short film ‘deus ex machina’

June 13, 2016

As the name suggests, Deus Ex Machina is a surrealist and futurist portrait of black oppression. With the use of powerful visual metaphors, writer/director Armani Martin makes the past a palpable reality in the present. Throughout the 7-minute short we follow a chained black man, a slave, as he and two friends make their way to school. On the way, they are confronted by present day conflicts many black kids (specifically men) face on a daily basis, such as gang violence, poverty, police brutality, racial profiling, and mental healthy. Deus Ex Machina could (maybe should) be considered as a portrait of the diaspora. “I was listening to the song ‘War’ by King Los when I got the call my little cousin just got shot in the head walking to the store in my hometown on the south side of Chicago,“ says Martin. “I wanted everyone of any and every color to feel exactly how we feel every day, every time we step outside the house.”

Deus ex Machina has been listed in the Top 20 Best Picture Film category for HBO’s Short Film competition in association with the American Black Film Festival, Film-COM and the LA Shorts Award. You can watch the trailer down below.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

Writer/Director: Armani Martin
Director of Photography: James ‘Tiago’ Bertrand

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at