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THE BOYS OF BARAKA

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A bitter irony runs through Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's documentary about at-risk Baltimore youth: These boys from the richest nation on earth have to travel to impoverished Africa in order to find a chance of success. In a private but primitive school in Baraka, Kenya, 20 kids are freed from the omnipresent horrors and distractions of the streets and their troubled families. In the peace of the dusty nowhere, they can focus on learning, both academics and personal responsibility. The film follows three boys through their first year at Baraka; the footage is at times startlingly intimate, but the filmmakers are respectful of these tiny men, who are really children burdened with adult-sized troubles. While this film is rooted in hope, unforeseen circumstances render its outcome heartbreaking. And throughout, the window this film opens onto the other America is devastating. Harris (AH)

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