For Ahkeem (2017)

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Critic Consensus: For Ahkeem uses one young woman's stirring story to offer a sobering reflection of the lives of many in modern America.

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Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail. After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years we watch as Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother. As Antonio is drawn into the criminal justice system and events in Ferguson just four miles from her home seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young Black boy. Through Daje's intimate coming of age story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive.

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Critic Reviews for For Ahkeem

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (12)

"For Ahkeem" ... reminds white audiences that it is not enough to agree that black lives matter, but that it is also necessary to try and understand how black lives are lived.

Mar 15, 2018 | Full Review…

By simply documenting Deja's humanity, For Ahkeem offers a vivid example of the incontrovertible fact that black lives matter.

Dec 14, 2017 | Rating: B | Full Review…

[For Ahkeem] is a compelling but often frustrating documentary, a microcosm of the struggles faced by many disadvantaged young people of color today.

Dec 14, 2017 | Full Review…

For Ahkeem doesn't present anything new, but perhaps there's no need to: Its focus on one young woman struggling to graduate implicitly says that no matter how common the story, every person matters.

Dec 14, 2017 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Levine and Van Soest are on top of their subjects with a startling familiarity and shoot in such a clean, unfiltered style that at times you question if they're working from a script or if their subjects are actors.

Dec 1, 2017 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

A tenderly intimate, affecting documentary portrait ...

Oct 19, 2017 | Full Review…

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