Sunday, May 7, 2017
Steve's take on FOR AHKEEM (2017) Tribeca 2017
Daje Shelton aka Boonie (pronounced Boney) is a very smart young girl who occasionally is getting into trouble. When yet another fight sends her before a judge she is given a choice, go to a special school or drop out. If she goes to the school she has a chance at finishing high school and going to college. Thus begins For Ahkeem, a portrait of Boonie over the next two years.
A you are there portrait of a black teen For Ahkeem is a deeply movie. Showing live of the impoverished family is going to shock most people, even people who think they have seen it all. While not tragic nor violent, this film makes clear exactly what life is like for people like Boonie is like. We see how the mistakes we make as kids can haunt us for life. For example Antonio, Boonie’s boyfriend, is a high school drop out with no prospects whose missteps prevent him from taking the hand out and leg ups that are being offered to help make his life better. Similarly The Ahkeem of the title is Boonie’s son while a ball of love, is a reminder at how hard life can suddenly become.
Deliberately paced, the one knock I heard after the press screening was that the film seemed slow, the film brings you into events and the flow of life in a way that few films manage. We see and feel what Boonie is experiencing and it changes how we see life. For the upper class sort of people who attend Tribeca and other film festivals poverty will hopefully cease to be an abstraction. Here is the life of a good kid, who should be excelling, struggling to get by. Here is a film that transcends the pit falls that other similar films fall into and actually become a film that may actually help to make things better…
I was moved.
My one question concerning the film is how did the filmmakers get the across the board access to make this film? It is truly amazing.
One of the first films I saw At Tribeca For Ahkeem is a must see.