An American Promise

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"Success is Our Only Option"
  • TV-PG
  • 2013
  • 7.1  (295)
  • 67

An American Promise is a poignant and powerful documentary film that follows the lives of two African American boys, Idris and Seun, who are attending a prestigious private school in New York City. The film, directed by Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, chronicles the boys' experiences over the course of 13 years, from kindergarten through high school graduation.

At the heart of the film is the question of whether the boys' parents, Joe and Michele, can provide them with the same opportunities and advantages that their predominantly white peers enjoy. Joe and Michele are well-educated and financially comfortable, but they are also acutely aware of the challenges their sons may face in a society that has historically been hostile to black men. The film explores the complexities of race, class, and family dynamics, as viewers watch Idris and Seun navigate the ups and downs of adolescence, all while trying to find their place in a rapidly changing world.

Throughout the film, we see the boys' parents struggle with their own doubts and fears about the choices they have made for their children. They worry that Idris and Seun may not be fully accepted by their classmates, that they may struggle academically, and that they may ultimately be held back by the structural inequalities of American society. But even as they face these challenges, Joe and Michele remain fiercely committed to their sons' success, doing everything in their power to ensure that they have the skills and opportunities they need to thrive.

One of the most powerful aspects of An American Promise is the way it captures the boys' experiences as they grow and mature. We see Idris and Seun struggle with academic pressure, social dynamics, and the expectations of their families and communities. And yet, we also see them triumph over these challenges, developing their own unique identities and forming strong bonds with their classmates and teachers.

The film is especially effective in portraying the boys' perspective on their own lives. Through candid conversations and interviews, we see Idris and Seun express their own doubts and aspirations, as well as their sense of pride and belonging within their school community. Moreover, we see the boys' relationships with their parents evolve over time, from early childhood dependence, to teenage rebellion, to a mature sense of mutual respect and understanding.

Overall, An American Promise is a compelling and deeply moving film that offers a rare and honest glimpse into the lived experiences of black youth in America. Through its intimate portrayal of Idris and Seun's lives, as well as the struggles and triumphs of their parents, the film illuminates the complexities of race, class, and identity in contemporary American society. It is a film that will leave viewers both enriched and heartbroken, and that will likely prompt important conversations about the role of education, privilege, and opportunity in shaping the lives of young people today.

An American Promise
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  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (295)
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