Doc­u­men­tary, not rated, 90 min­utes,

Pasatiempo - - CAPSULE REVIEWS - For Ahkeem

Daje Shel­ton was sev­en­teen when she found her­self stand­ing be­fore a judge af­ter a fight at school. She was forced by the court to at­tend an al­ter­na­tive high school for trou­bled teens or risk be­ing sent to a ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­ter. Grow­ing up in a rough neigh­bor­hood in St. Louis, she de­ter­mines to make some­thing of her life, but young black peo­ple from her neigh­bor­hood face nearly in­sur­mount­able odds.

The film is a pow­er­ful look at some of the rea­sons the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment ex­ists, although it’s not the fo­cus of this doc­u­men­tary, which is mainly told through the eyes of Daje, a ju­nior in high school, in the days be­fore, dur­ing, and af­ter the events in nearby Fer­gu­son that were prompted by the shoot­ing death of Michael Brown. Brown’s death oc­curred dur­ing film­ing, and Daje’s com­mu­nity acutely feels the pain of it. You will not soon for­get the rage and de­spair of a mother whose six­teen-year-old son has been sense­lessly killed. She rages at a crowd of his friends at the funeral: “You all get to go to school one more day.” It’s dev­as­tat­ing to watch.

is an af­fect­ing and at times gutwrench­ing story that touches on the broader is­sues of poverty, racism, and po­lice bru­tal­ity. The judge who sen­tenced Daje is also her new high school prin­ci­pal, and he makes it em­phat­i­cally clear to the stu­dents at the school that his in­ten­tion is to keep them out of the prison sys­tem. It’s a rough school, but also a place for sec­ond chances rather than pun­ish­ments. The in­struc­tors do their best to pre­pare the stu­dents for the out­side world, know­ing first­hand the dif­fi­cul­ties they’ll face. Even the school lunch lady en­cour­ages the stu­dents — “Hold your head up and walk the walk of a queen,” she says.

“When you step off this block, you might see some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Daje’s mother tells her. Mean­while, what Daje sees are friends gunned down in sense­less acts of vi­o­lence (her own cousin was shot 25 times by po­lice), ri­ot­ing in the streets, and a larger pub­lic that is in­dif­fer­ent to the po­lice bru­tal­ity and op­pres­sion tar­get­ing their com­mu­nity. In­struc­tors at the school and the kids’ par­ents talk about get­ting out,

con­tin­ued on Page 42

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