Sunday, February 22, 2009

Boys of Baraka

Boys of Baraka
(Video Duration: 1:21:49)
click here for larger view


Don't miss the true coming-of-age story that follows a group of extraordinary 12-year old boys from the most violent ghettos of Baltimore to an experimental boarding school 10,000 miles away in rural Kenya. An emotionally explosive journey shot over three years, the film zeroes in on a group of brave kids who are willing to cross the ocean to chase an opportunity - boys with a fierce determination to fight the label of "throw-away."

Letter From The Filmmakers:
Dear Friends,

"The Boys of Baraka" took over three years to make, and the experience had a profound effect on us as filmmakers as well as impacting our views of American society. Both of us have made films over the years about the disenfranchised; people living on the margins of society. But the kids that we met in Baltimore - and became very close to over the years - were impoverished on a level we hadn't seen so intimately before.

Boys of Baraka Filmmakers
click image for updates on the boys

Baltimore is a typical "rust belt" city, filled with seemingly endless blocks of ghettos, boarded up homes, discarded human beings. Some families are made up of 5th and 6th generations of abject poverty - and the result is extremely destructive, wasteful and ugly. When you grow to love someone who is personally suffering because of the family they were born into, you feel how truly unjust life can be.

The deeper understanding we gleaned about poverty was directly linked to our absolute shock at what the public education system fails to offer inner-city kids. Kids are taught from their first "institution" (ie, the school system) what their roles are in American society. In a place where an African-American boy who graduates from high school is considered miraculous, ambition and dreams are squashed early on. They are taught that they are born losers, and to aim as low as possible. The school system seems simply to reflect what society has in store for them.

Yet, once removed from this grim environment, the kids seemed to flourish, to become the powerful young men they knew existed inside of them. It was incredible how quickly bad attitudes and tough exteriors dissipated in an atmosphere of positive reinforcement and encouragement. The kids learned to be competitive with their grades, to strive to please their teachers and themselves. They behaved like curious boys, hungry for knowledge, actively looking forward to their own futures. They allowed themselves to fantasize about careers as chemists, teachers and architects, instead of a life on the corner or on the stoop.

As documentary subjects, the kids illustrated grace and dignity. They confided their hopes and fears with complete openness and brutal honesty. They were funny, curious and tender. Despite coming from a bleak and seemingly hopeless world, the kid's humanity shone through.

The experience of meeting these kids and making this film taught us to be more human and less judgmental. The kids would be shocked to know that they taught us so much, and we're eternally grateful to them for that.

We hope they will touch you in the same profound way they touched us.

Enjoy the film.

Best Wishes,

Rachel Grady  & Heidi Ewing

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