The Boys of Baraka (2005)

I have never heard of The Boys of Baraka until I picked the DVD at my local library. I thought it was a film about the Mortal Kombat character. Nope. It’s something much different from that.

Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady spent three years following the lives of at-risk youths from a Baltimore ghetto. The only options the young boys have are either jail, death or graduating from high school. In their neighborhood only 76% of boys drop out of school.

A recruiter from the Baraka School, Miss Jackson, tells the potential students about the school in Kenya, Africa that would change their attitudes about getting an education and change the course of their lives. Only twenty students will chosen to take part in the school program.

Out of the twenty students selected, the filmmakers follow four boys. There is Richard, the boy with the determination of not being like the drug dealers that hang around every corner in his neighborhood and his little brother, Romesh. There is Devon, who wants to be a preacher when he grows up. Last, there is the troublemaker, Montrey, who wants to a chemist when he grows up.

The trouble is that most of these boys are not the academic levels that they should be at twelve or thirteen. Miss Jackson conducts the summer orientation for the Baraka School before the boys leave for Africa in September.

When the boys arrive to the school, they are greeted by the headmaster, Ray Berttula who explains the rules of the school. They have to do their work and not be physically violent towards each other of they will sent back home.

The boys explore their new surroundings by taking hikes to local villages to see other kids, play in the streams and watch the native animals roam around. Their time there makes them homesick and some of the kids act out in frustration. Will the school actually changes these boys before it’s too late?

When I heard that the y filmmakers spent three years filming this movie, I had to ak myself, “Where is it?” It feels like a hollow documentary that barely scratched the surface of what these boys are going through.

Judgment: I felt that I was cheated out of 1 1/2 hours of my time.

Rating: 4.5/10

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on April 21, 2011, in 2005, Documentary, Running Feature, The SIL Festival and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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