"Astounding and powerful" - Indiewire.
Raising Bertie (2016) is an intimate portrait of three African American boys growing into adulthood in rural North Carolina, exploring complex relationships between generational poverty, educational inequity, and race.
A longitudinal exploration of emotions and economics, the film was made over six years by debut director Margaret Byrne in partnership with Chicago's Kartemquin Films. The film's music was curated by grammy-nominated hip-hop star J. Cole, who is the film's executive producer, and was himself raised in North Carolina, as was the film's producer, Ian Kibbe.
Set in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in Eastern North Carolina, the film takes the viewer deep into the lives of three young boys - Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell - as they grow into adults.
This raw and starkly poetic cinéma vérité film weaves the young men’s stories together as they navigate unemployment, institutional racism, violence, first love, fatherhood, death, and estrangement from family members and mentors, all while trying to define their identities.
“This film has been a labor of love. Over the last seven years, we have maintained close, trusting relationships with each family in the film. I love them and am honored that they trusted me, gave me an unfiltered window into their lives, and believed what we were doing was important,” said director Margaret Byrne. “The individuals in this story are representative of their community and they matter.
Directed and Produced by Margaret Byrne. Produced by Ian Kibbe. Director of Photography & Co-Producer: Jon Stuyvesant. Edited by Leslie Simmer. Executive Producers: J.Cole, Gordon Quinn, Justine Nagan. A production of Beti Films and Kartemquin Films.
Supported by: MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Southern Documentary Fund, Good Pitch, IFP Labs.
Festivals: Full Frame 2016 (world premiere), Sarasota 2016, Ashland 2016, Bentonville 2016.