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Daje is seventeen, and just as unruly and caught up in her own thoughts as others of her age the world over. We only realise her future hangs in the balance when we see her go to juvenile court with her mother: she’s been expelled from school for rebelliousness and has just one last chance to get back on track. Yet the true gravity of her situation only gradually becomes clear: such as when we see the many names of her friends written on her notebook followed by R.I.P. and a recent date, or when Daje talks to her boyfriend about whether she – or he – might also die so young.
For Ahkeem explores the cosmos of a young black woman in St. Louis, Missouri, not far from Ferguson, where Michael Brown was shot in August 2014. The film adheres to a strictly personal perspective to recount her upbringing in today’s United States and show the predetermined paths open to her – lined as they are with barricaded brick buildings. But it also reveals Daje’s talent at avoiding the pitfalls of being either a victim or a model student, while evolving into an impressive film protagonist – of a documentary that depicts her complicated life more in the style of a poignant feature than a social reportage. (Dorothee Wenner)
Production: Iyabo Boyd, New York ; Weissman Studio, New York; Transient Pictures, New York
Camera: Nicholas Weissman
Running time: 89 min