HD - DCP - 2017 - USA - 90 Min - Color
For Ahkeem (original title)
A film by Jeremy S.Levine & Landon Van Soest
For Ahkeem is the coming-of- age story of an extraordinary young girl who never gives up as she strives to balance school, family, and trauma within the challenging world of being a Black teenager in America.
Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail.
After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years we watch as Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother.
As Antonio is drawn into the criminal justice system and events in Ferguson just four miles from her home seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young Black boy.
Through Daje’s intimate coming of age story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive.
Jeremy S.Levine & Landon Van Soest
Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest are an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaking team. Their latest feature documentary, Good Fortune, about two Kenyans battling major foreign aid efforts that bring them more harm than benefit, was broadcast to millions of viewers in prime time on the PBS series POV. Good Fortune received a National Emmy Award in addition to awards for international reporting and promoting social justice from the Overseas Press Club, Fledgling Fund, and Witness.
Their previous documentary Walking the Line, about vigilantes on the U.S.-Mexico border, was broadcast nationally in five countries and recognized with awards for production, reporting, and preserving human rights.
In 2014, Levine directed/co-produced “Am I Next,” a short film about a teenager navigating the protests on the streets of Ferguson for Time. The short was also featured on Upworthy and Dazed Magazine and selected as a Vimeo Staff pick, with over 500K combined views.
Van Soest is also currently directing Light Darkness Light, a feature documentary that tracks the life-altering experience of a man who receives a bionic eye and learns to see again after thirty years of blindness.
Landon and Jeremy co-founded Transient Pictures, a full service production company that produces original content for organizations like Facebook, Unicef, Ben & Jerry’s, Toyota, and Lincoln Center. The team also co-founded the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a not-for-profit group of professional filmmakers who come together weekly for feedback and support.
Original language: English
Produced by: Weissman Studio, Transient Pictures, ITVS
Nominated for the Glashütte Original - Documentary Award Berlin FORUM 2017
Forum Section - International Film Festival Berlin 2017