Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Boys of Baraka

I missed this documentary's run at Film Forum last year. Mitch saw it and wrote:
An African school
For troubled kids from B'more
Very depressing
I recall that he said it was pretty good but not great. I agree with that sentiment if that is indeed what he said.

The program in Kenya for the boys was supposed to be for two years. It was fascinating to watch the kids mature over the course of the first school year. The first half of the film was really great. I was excited to see how the kids reflected on being back home in Baltimore for the summer. However, it seemed to me that the filmmakers didn't capture what the kids were thinking upon arriving back home to the extent that I was hoping they would and the second half considerably.

Unfortunately, due to red tape and a lack of funding, the program (after a seven year run) was cancelled. The kids were not able to return for their second year. The filmmakers were left holding the bag. They made the best of it, I suppose. The documentary definitely ended up turning into an even more depressing statement on the state of inner city education then it would have been if the kids had had a second year.

The pained expression of one boy pleading to have the program continue in a school in Baltimore will stick with me for quite awhile.

Youthlarge pointed out that Ewing and Grady's latest film Jesus Camp was just released in New York.

Directers: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
2005
PBS

1 comment:

mas said...

I agree - I wanted more from the second half and it seemed like the filmmakers either ran out of time or money and didn't shoot enough footage to allow the Baltimore stuff (which became as important as the footage from Africa once the school was closed) to equal the first half.

I saw "Jesus Camp" too, and it was similarly worth seeing. The main character is fascinating and it's a little more cohesive than "Baraka" but there is one element that really seemed unnecessary and bothered me throughout.

Glad you liked "Old Joy" - I'm looking forward to seeing it.