Film: Sundance Film Festival Award-Winner: American Promise

Thursday January 23, 2014: 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for adults and teens (grade 6 and up)

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, American Promise is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 12 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who entered a very prestigious and historically white private school on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The Dalton School had made a commitment to recruit students of color, and five-year-old best friends Idris Brewster and Oluwaseun (Seun) Summers of Brooklyn were two of the gifted children who were admitted. The boys were placed in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges, if little reflection of their cultural identities.

Idris' parents, Joe Brewster, a Harvard- and Stanford-trained psychiatrist, and Michèle Stephenson, a Columbia Law School graduate and filmmaker, decided to film the boys' progress starting in 1999. They and members of the large Summers family soon found themselves struggling not only with kids' typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps.

American Promise, which traces the boys' journey from kindergarten through high school graduation, finds the greatest challenge for the families--and perhaps the country--is to close the black male educational achievement gap, which has been called "the civil rights crusade of the 21st century."

This event is a collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series. For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/pov/