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American Promise (2013)



Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 557

My Rating

Movie Info

The American Promise journey began in 1999, when filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson enrolled their son Idris in the Dalton School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after the private institution boldly strengthened its commitment to cultivating a diverse student body. Michèle and Joe decided to turn the camera on themselves to film the experiences of 5-year-old Idris and his best friend and classmate Seun. The documentary captures the stories of Idris, Seun, and their families from

Sep 2, 2014


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October 17, 2013:
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All Critics (23) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (7)

A misbegotten project, as well as a missed opportunity.

February 3, 2014 Full Review Source: Newsday
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Not only provides illuminating insights into racial and cultural issues, but explores family dynamics common to all.

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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By the end you can't help but wonder whether it was a good idea to keep the youngsters under camera scrutiny for more than 12 years.

November 14, 2013 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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The fact that the pair pulls off the nearly 21 / 2-hour run time without making the audience tire of the subjects is a feat itself.

October 31, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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I'm glad I saw this movie because it allowed me to spend time with two engaging boys whose young lives are worth chronicling. But those lives can't bear the symbolic weight the filmmakers place on them. Nor should they have to.

October 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
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A remarkable documentary, though only partially for the reason its creators intended.

October 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Doesn't hold your hand as it reaches what it's conveying. It's a difficult doc that plays easy.

May 30, 2014 Full Review Source: Nonfics

f Idris is different because he's African American, he stands out even more because he has a camera crew following him to class.

January 3, 2014 Full Review Source: NOW Toronto
NOW Toronto

Says a lot about race, color, class, competition, and plain human nature in success-driven contemporary urban America.

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Because Brewster and Stephenson have had the great courage to expose their own mistakes and excesses along the way, the film is revelatory as an embedded report from the front lines of parenting.

November 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Repetitive, overlong and, worst of all, not illuminating enough.

October 19, 2013 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

Raising and educating middle-class African-American boys is seen first-hand, cinema verité style, over 9 years in fitful, occasionally insightful, and intimately revealing.

October 18, 2013 Full Review Source:

While they didn't set out to make a film about what newspaper columnists refer to as the "black male achievement gap," Brewster and Stephenson have done just that, and it's hard to imagine a more penetrating and powerful one.

October 18, 2013 Full Review Source:

While American Promise often feels frustratingly unfocused and random, compensates to some degree with equally random details about growing up in urban America.

October 16, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

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Foreign Titles

  • American Promise (DE)
  • American Promise (UK)
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