Price: $350.00

    Code: 2543

    Directed by Margaret Byrne
    2016, 96 minutes

    Recorded over six years, Raising Bertie delivers an authentic and tender portrait of the lives of three young boys as they face a precarious coming of age within Bertie County, a rural African-American community in North Carolina. Another harrowing work from the acclaimed documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films, the film shows the process of growing up in a place afflicted by generations of economic and educational segregation.

    Growing up in a neighborhood of Bertie David "Bud" Perry calls "the 'hood," Bud has developed a tough exterior, leading to repeated suspensions for fighting and altercations with authority that threaten to derail his dreams of stability and success as an adult. Reginald "Junior" Askew lives in a small home, wedged between fields of corn, with his sister, and their mother--left to care for her children when their father was incarcerated for murder when Junior was three. For Davonte "Dada" Harrell, the youngest of the three, family is everything and the recent separation of his parents weighs heavily on his heart.

    All three boys attend The Hive, an alternative school for at-risk boys. There, we meet Vivian Saunders, a passionate community activist who runs the school. At The Hive, a combination of respect, socio-emotional learning, and mentorship helps to put these young men’s lives on track. But, when budget shortfalls lead the Board of Education to close The Hive, Junior, Bud, and Dada must return to Bertie High School and a system that once failed them.

    This raw, and starkly poetic, vérité documentary weaves the young men’s stories together as the boys navigate school, unemployment, violence, first love, fatherhood, and estrangement from family members and mentors, all while trying to define their identities.

    Intimate access allows an honest portrayal of the boys' perspectives and an in-depth look at issues facing rural America's youth and what happens in the everyday lives of young people caught in the complex interplay of generational poverty, economic isolation, and educational inequity. Raising Bertie is an experience that asks us to see this world through the eyes of Junior, Bud, and Dada, and inspires recognition and empathetic understanding of lives and communities too often ignored.

    Learn more about the Kartemquin Films.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
    Official Selection, AFI DOCS Film Festival
    Official Selection, Ashland Independent Film Festival
    Official Selection, Sarasota Film Festival
    Official Selection, Bentonville Film Festival
    Official Selection, Roxbury International Film Festival
    Official Selection, Capital City Black Film Festival
    Best Director, Atlanta Underground Film Festival


    "Astounding and powerful." — Bryn Gelbart, Indiewire

    "Beautifully filmed." — Alexander Bisley, The Guardian

    "Brilliantly weaves the young men’s stories together, as they transition from their teens into manhood, engaged in a shared struggle for social and economic survival." — Brian C. Bush, The Huffington Post Black Voices

    "A curiously intimate look at what life is like for young black men in an impoverished rural community where opportunities are scarce and potential pitfalls are everywhere. The film resonates powerfully with contemporary issues of racial inequality, educational opportunities and the Black Lives Matter movement." — The News & Observer

    "Through careful, long-form visual storytelling Raising Bertie artfully explores larger problems plaguing the South... Every state legislator, every high school student and dammit, every citizen who cares about the state needs to watch Raising Bertie." — Sandra Davidson, Bit & Grain

    "Screening Raising Bertie was one of the most impactful experiences for our campus in relation to discussing issues surrounding social, economic, and racial inequities existing in our society. The film brought the real world impacts of these inequities to the forefront through the lens of these three individuals, thus humanizing the issues many in our society face but are so seldom discussed by those not directly impacted." — Michael R. Coombes, Director of New Student Programs Division of Academic and Student Affairs at North Carolina State University

    "Raising Bertie is more than just a coming of age story; it is a raw and honest depiction of the landscape of rural America. While highlighting the strength of community organizing, film-makers have crafted a story of family, poverty, the educational system, and the impact that policy makers have on students and their local community. After seeing the film, you can only be moved to action." — Tiffany B. Robinson, School Counselor at East Chapel Hill High School

    "What’s striking about this film is how it illustrates the layers of race, poverty, geography, education and local politics by just patiently letting the story unfold. By the time it was over, my head was swimming with the issues the film raised. It’s so compelling, we all needed to discuss it not only as we left the theater, but for weeks afterward." — Holley Nichols, Financial Aid Administrator at UNC-Chapel Hill

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