In director Justin Tipping's feature debut Kicks, nothing is as simple as it seems. 15-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone -- even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow. Boasting a strong ensemble cast, and featuring a memorable lead performance by newcomer Jahking Guillory, the film transcends a deceptively traditional hero's journey to deliver an entertaining and sobering look at the realities of inner-city life, the concept of manhood and the fetishization of sneaker culture. Visually and thematically rich, with an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of machismo.