A documentary about rural education in North Carolina that debuted at film festivals last year is making its public television premiere on Monday night.
The film is a six-year, cinema vérité effort to follow three young men who have faced a range of challenges in school. They are Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell.
I reviewed the film last year out of the AFI DOCS film festival in Washington. I said that “the slow pace of the film by director/producer Margaret Byrne makes the viewer get in time with the rhythms of Bertie County, a very rural area of eastern North Carolina that is home to cotton farms, chicken processing plants, and state prisons.”
At the start of the film, the students are attending an alternative program for suspended students called The Hive. (The program is later shut down during the film by the Bertie County school system for budget reasons.)
Junior, Bud, and Dada then enroll in a traditional high school, where they face a range of challenges as they pursue their diplomas.
“Raising Bertie,” I said last year, “is not a policy-oriented documentary offering prescriptions for rural education in America. It is more of an intimate, unhurried visit to an area unlike the places where most of us live.”
I listed the version of the film I saw last year as 102 minutes. The “POV” version is listed as 90 minutes. Even if 12 minutes have been cut, it is still worth watching.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.