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Raising Bertie (2016)

CIFF 2016You might expect a documentary about three poor African American teens living in the shadow of twenty-seven prisons to be an exercise in stereotyping-as-drama. Raising Bertie is not that film. Director Margaret Byrne and co-writer Leslie Simmer spend six years with these kids, whose lives change when their nurturing alternative high school is dissolved. Junior, DaDa and Bud grow up before our eyes, gasping for breath in a system too overrun and underfunded to care, in a rural town that's short on role models, opportunities, and reasons to dream. Byrne showcases the promise within each of these young men and tracks how they harness, diminish, and refocus it to make the best of circumstances they either fall into or dive into recklessly. Though not an overtly political movie, Raising Bertie works to change the media narrative of "unarmed black men" to "disarming black men".

Listen to Kicking the Seat Podcast #161 for an interview with director Margaret Byrne and producer Ian Robertson Kibbe!

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