adrian is rad


boys of baraka

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:30 pm

On Wednesday, Gumbeaux and I saw Boys of Baraka as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Here’s a pretty good article about the movie and the story of the school. (
password: bugmenot, courtesy of bugmenot).

A few years ago Baltimorian (?) and philantropist Robert C Embry, Jr. and his Abell Foundation started a boarding school in the Kenyan bush for 20-40 “at risk” inner city boys a year. The idea was to get these kids away from gangs and drugs and shootings and give them personal attenion in teaching. The movie follows four kids as the go through this program and come back to Baltimore, some drastically different and some not.

I liked this movie quite a bit. The four kids they follow are really interesting. They are so genuine and funny. The editting must have been really hard; I bet there was just so much that they could have included. I would have liked to see more about their time in Kenya, particularly the boys’ reactions to Kenya and their interactions with the locals.

The scenes there were very familiar to me; my short trip to rural Tanzania looked very similar. I wanted to tell people around me at the theater that I’d seen these scenes and the people.

Because of circumstances beyond the directors’ control, it wasn’t the movie they probably set out to make and in the end it wasn’t the movie that I wanted it to be. (It’s sort of a spoiler so I won’t say what happens.) That was a bit disappointing.

There is something about documentaries that can really effect me. I guess it’s because these are real people and events that really happened. They can show you the goodness of humanity (and sometimes the badness). The characters are endearing. Other documentaries that I really liked: To Be and To Have and Spellbound.

One thing that sort of angered (I don’t know if that’s the right word) both Gumbeaux and I was the audience reaction to some parts of the film involving one of the boys Devon. Devon’s christian and he wants to be a preacher. In fact, he has the whole African-American evangelical preacher style down. (you know, the sort of agitated style with the vocalizations as emphasis: “I would like to ask you Lord huh! to help us huh!”) And he preaches at his Church when he gets back. People laughed at this. Not a “that’s cool” sort of amazed laugh but a condescending laugh. People also laughed when Devon was in Kenya and he was on the phone with his family and the preacher happened to be there and he told Devon to testify to the people. As Gumbeaux put it, if people have an enlightened enough world view to want to see a movie about this, then how is it that they are so condescending to these displays of christianity?

I could say more about this but I think this is as good a point as any to stop.

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