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The Boys of Baraka (2005)

Devon Brown , Darius Chambers , Heidi Ewing , Rachel Grady  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Devon Brown, Darius Chambers, Richard Keyser
  • Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
  • Producers: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Nikos Katsaounis
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000F48D78
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,069 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Boys of Baraka" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing
  • "A Conversation with Bill Cosby" featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • "The Boys: An Update"
  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Don't miss the true coming-of-age story that follows a group of extraordinary 12-year-old boys from the most violent ghettos of Baltimore to an experimental boarding school 10,000 miles away in rural Kenya. An emotionally explosive journey shot over three years, the film zeroes in on a group of brave kids who are willing to cross the ocean to chase an opportunity - boys with a fierce determination to fight the label of "throw-away."

If everyone in high government office saw The Boys of Baraka, who knows what kind of positive change it might inspire? From this remarkable documentary about hope and second chances, the message is clear: The poorest, most violent, undesirable neighborhoods in America are a breeding ground for hopelessness and despair, and there's a solution if only we'd give it a good fighting chance. The scene is Baltimore, Maryland, in 2002, where 76% of all African American boys living in the inner-city ghetto will never earn a high school diploma. As one adult tells the kids at a Baltimore school, they have three choices: jail, an early death, or graduating high school--and you know she's telling the cold, hard truth. That's when we learn of the Baraka School in Kenya, East Africa, where 20 African American boys (ages 12 and 13) are chosen each year to enter a transformative two-year course of schooling, away from their families in Baltimore. The purpose of the school, in part, is to demonstrate that the toxic environment of Baltimore, and its negative impact on the self-esteem of ghetto residents, can be reversed by removing these boys to Baraka, where a strict regimen of classes and responsibilities has an immediate, if not always permanent, beneficial effect.

We follow several boys on this fascinating journey toward growth and renewal. Devon is an aspiring preacher with musical talent; Montrey is a troublemaker with a bad attitude, who dreams of a career in science; brother Richard and Romesh are both accepted into Baraka, and despite setbacks both flourish in the program. Codirectors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady capture their gradual awakening to a new way of living and a new outlook on life, and then comes bad news: Due to security concerns and regional politics, the Baraka program is suspended, and the boys must return to the bleakness of Baltimore. Have they changed for good? Will they find a way to earn their diplomas and have hope for their futures? The Boys of Baraka offers no easy answers, but in showing us a glimmer of hope against all odds, the film gains depth and power with a conditional happy ending. Uncertainty remains, but so does a palpable sense of achievement and self-improvement that could, on a grander scale of government and societal support, lead to a positive revolution in our school system, which currently offers a depressing shortage of options for our most underprivileged citizens. Without forcing its uplifting message, this exceptional documentary offers proof of a better way, if only enough people would step up and support it. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm not going to write a long review, as I doubt people care to read and in depth report on the documentary. What I will say is that this film changed, moved, uplifted and depressed me all at the same time. It is truly powerful and the best documentary I've seen in years. A lot of documentaries deal with the atrocities that take place in other nations and those are the ones that receive the greatest recognition. I think we as a country take solace in knowing that things are so much worse somewhere else. This film hits right at home and shows the realites I face as an educator everyday. Our educational system is short-changing our youth, primarily our Black youth. When I saw this film, I went to work and told my colleagues to go and see it immediately. Our discussions about this film have all been tear-filled as we came to the realization that we are a part of a system that sets children up for a lifetime of failure. You may not have the same reaction to this film that I did, but you will have a deep and direct reaction to it. It is powerful, truthful, vibrant and spirit-filled. You will find yourself cheering for, crying for and ultimately enamored with all of the young men chronicled in this film. Buy it and invite everyone you know who matters to come over and watch it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ~A Must See Film!~ November 28, 2006
A Kid's Review
"The Boys of Baraka", what an inspirational movie. This is a movie that I

could watch over and over again. It is funny and very interesting. It's

based on a group of pre-teens and teens (12-13) who have the opportunity

of coming from a harsh and rough life in Baltimore, Maryland to a strict

school in Kenya where they not only get there education but the also talk

through conflicts instead of solving them with violence.

The boys are given a second chance into bettering their lives outside of

Maryland by being able to spend two years of their lives in East Africa,

Kenya at a school called, "Baraka School".

There's a boy named Richard, who is 13 years old who is determined to

make a better life for himself. He is a strong young black male who knows

whats best for him and his younger brother Romesh whos us 12 years old.

He is determined to do whatever he has to do to be a better person.

There is also another young black male by the name of Devon who is an

inspiration that I admire because he loves to preach and have dreams

about becoming a pastor one day. Even though his mother is struggling

from abusing drugs, that's not going to stop this young inspiration from

achieving his dream.

As they are living in Kenya the boys really don't like it because they

start missing their families and because they brought their lifestyles

from Baltimore to Kenya which makes it hard. Not only are the

disrespecting each other but themeselves also.

At then end of this movie the boys are sent home after the completion of

their first year for summer vacation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!!!! November 9, 2006
This film is a gripping true life portrait of the path poverty takes when it (poverty) decides to destroy life and hurt those who cannot defeat its ties of depression.

One of the strongest film ever seen!!! A must see
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps the best added feature of the purchase of this DVD is the mirror that comes along with it. The mirror creates a reflection (as all mirrors do) and reveals simply what is to be seen. However, like mirrors do, unless we are vain or a super model, they reveal something which doesn't get looked at too often...a cold hard in depth look at ourselves. What is really cool about this added bonus feature is that the mirror included with "The Boys of Baraka," directed by Heidi Ewing doesn't just stop with a self-revelation of the's broader than reveals a societal culture that struggles with being one of the more prosperous nation's in the world, a nation that invests heavily in nation building overseas, a nation and culture that struggles with its own poverty. Deep mirror, maybe, but a mirror that no doubt is worthy to peer into. there really is no gimmicky mirror along with the purchase of "The Boys of Baraka," but there is commentary on the movie by Bill Crosby and the commentary is enlightening. The documentary is powerful on its own, as Heidi Ewing works to tell the miraculous story of a group of East Baltimore teenage and pre-teen boys as they enroll in a program that takes them to Kenya for two years away from their family and away from East Baltimore to focus being 12 and 13 year olds growing up in the world. The opportunity to grow up and develop into young men isn't really something that is afforded to them in the public school and poverty environment that is East Baltimore. The lives of their families are honestly told raw exposing drug habits, exposing absent fathers, exposing all the entrappings that is poverty in the United States.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and amazing June 6, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This was one of my favorite films of the past year. It is the heartbreaking and amazing story of how hard it can be to break out of the ghetto for too many of America's children.

The "boys" of Baraka are at once charming, inspiring and heartbreaking. The filmmakers have done a great job of showing us their real life, without making things feel maudlin or overly-dramatic. It should have been an Oscar nominee, but is worthy of your time nonetheless.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails at Basic Journalistic Answers
This story delivered an interesting concept but didn't provide the necessary journalistic inquiry to provide the viewer with a full understanding. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Tell Me a Story
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Powerful documentary that highlights the disparities in education in america.
Published 9 days ago by Student Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for education, activist, church groups ...
A must see for education, activist, church groups involved in social justice. I cried at the end and tried to see how to help this program continue to help others... powerful!
Published 2 months ago by traci t
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and Uplifting
This is a gripping documentary of poverty and its effects right here in the United States. Someone asked "why do we have to take boys out of the country?" I get it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by D. M. McCann
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie
I work in a school where we show this to middle school aged boys. They latch on to this movie instantly. Amazon is the only place that I found the movie for the price. Great buy.
Published 18 months ago by Kris Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars My Fave
I believe that everyone should see this film. Especially if you work in the community. We need to see how our kids are affected.
Published 21 months ago by Tara King
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
It came in perfect timing and I had no problems with this order. I'm the movie will be great to watch.
Published 22 months ago by Kelly Zimmerman
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching.
Not what I expected, but OK. It was good to see in the flesh kids who did not want to fail and their parents and communities who stood with them in trying to get out of the black... Read more
Published 23 months ago by PJR
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this!!
This is my favorite documentary I have ever seen. If it looks at all interesting to you, but it. You won't regret it.
Published on September 8, 2012 by Pat
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many unanswered questions
I bought this after watching Season 4 of The Wire (for the second time), looking for another angle on possible solutions to the problems of kids in Baltimore. Read more
Published on February 10, 2012 by L. Schnellinger
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