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A Most Beautiful Thing

This documentary follows a group of Black men from West Chicago who, in the 1990s, were the first all-Black crew team in the US. Narrated by Common and overlayed with a hip-hop soundtrack, the film follows the men who rowed during that first year that crew was offered at Manley High School and their lives that have taken each of them down different paths. The strength of the documentary is how it explores the family and community context in which all of these men came of age, communities that were dominated by gangs, and the expectation that boys join gangs. Some of the parents struggled with drug addiction issues, some of the boys found themselves in trouble, but they manage to make it in a system that is rigged against them from the beginning. The director moves through each of the men fairly quickly, so you don’t always get the chance to really take in each of their histories, but nonetheless, what these guys did is inspiring. Big thumbs up from me. (2020; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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