Raising Bertie (2017)


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Raising Bertie is an intimate portrait of three African American boys coming of age in rural North Carolina Set in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in Eastern North Carolina, Raising Bertie takes audiences deep into the emotional lives of three boys - Reginald "Junior" Askew, David "Bud" Perry, and Davonte "Dada" Harrell - over six-years as they come of age. This powerful vérité film produced by Chicago's internationally acclaimed Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters), Raising Bertie movingly weaves the young men's stories together as they try to define their identities, interconnecting narratives of family, youthful innocence, first love, systemic racism, educational inequity, poverty and unemployment, and the will to succeed in the face of formidable odds. Rural minorities like the youth in Bertie represent some of the nation's most vulnerable and least visible individuals, existing at that critical juncture of rural disenfranchisement and the achievement gap for young people of color. Rural child poverty rates continue to rise while poverty rates for minorities in rural areas are nearly three times that of rural whites. Despite this, the national media and educational reform movement have focused primarily on the needs of urban and non-rural youth, largely ignoring this vital segment of America. This is particularly troubling considering that rural areas provide most of our food, house most of our prisoners, and provide a large number of our armed personnel. Raising Bertie is an experience that asks us to see this world through their eyes, inciting recognition of lives and communities too often ignored. Intimate access provides a unique longitudinal observation of the everyday, and what happens in the lives of young people caught in the complex interplay of generational poverty, economic isolation, educational inequity, and race.

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Critic Reviews for Raising Bertie

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (6)

The film alternates between triumph and tragedy, but there's never a moment that doesn't feel intimate and authentic in its 96-minute running time.

Jun 22, 2017 | Full Review…

Byrne provides no voice-over and very few titles, trusting the viewer to make their own political and social interpretations.

Jun 21, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Byrne, who followed her subjects over a six-year period, powerfully drives home what is obvious and yet what most of us fail to see: Bertie County is America.

Jun 16, 2017 | Full Review…

An illuminating look at a black community's rural realities.

Jun 9, 2017 | Full Review…

Raising Bertie charts nothing less than what it's like to try to grow up free in the prison capital of the world.

Jun 7, 2017 | Full Review…

There are times when Raising Bertie can seem a bit too unfocused, but it's a project that always feels worthwhile for the opportunity it provides to expand an often-narrow view of the country.

May 30, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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