The Boys of Baraka (2005)
Every year the Baraka School selects twenty seventh-grade boys from the most violent ghettos of Baltimore, where 76% of male students do not graduate from high school, to spend two years at their all male boarding school in rural Kenya. This documentary movie won awards at six film festivals for its portrayal of one such class, with a special focus on four of them—Richard and his brother Romesh, Montrey, and the budding preacher Devon. The first twenty minutes of the film takes place in Baltimore, where we experience the horribly dysfunctional context in which the boys live, meet their families, learn of their selection to Baraka, and watch as their mothers bid them tearful good-byes at the airport. The next forty minutes documents their lives in Kenya, culminating their first school year by climbing Mount Kenya, then the last twenty minutes follows them back home to Baltimore for eight weeks of summer vacation. An unexpected plot turn at the end of the film ratchets the emotional quotient of this fantastic film even higher than you could have imagined. This is one of the finest films I have watched in a long while.