Saturday, January 26, 2008

Boys of Baraka

Voyeurism has me well inside and it might be a good long time before I come out: At what point do we turn off the cameras and ask what we might do to help? The Boys of Baraka. A great film, an important film released in 2005. But I've been told for the past several days about the millions it takes to make a film. And at the same time, about the importance of giving voice to that which is bound and duct-taped. But how much money would it have taken to create an alternative for Devon Brown, Richard Keyser, Montrey Moore, Romesh Vance, and the others? These boys revealed more character and poise than most people I've ever known. Bill Cosby offers an insightful afterword to the film. But notice that two of the boys wanted to become involved in the film industry. Could Cosby--better yet, could the film crew of Boys of Baraka--have helped make this a possibility? Have helped someone get into film school, get some side part, something? Boys who'd learned to behave in front of a camera.

All that money. And disappointment seems to be all that the industries of film and good will had to offer. Who held the camera as boys who were once given a beautiful opportunity deflated before the lens, told their way out of despair was shut down? We're not just watching a system letting children down--we're letting them down as viewers. Until I have a pocketful of change--and let's face it, that's not likely--I don't know if I can even bear to look.

Who are we to watch one day, the next to go to some film festival--to the parties, the after-parties, gathering our stacks of business cards, our stacks of postcards and free stickers for the collector kids or the mad uncles? I know I'm wrong--I do. I'll regret saying these things one day, probably tomorrow. Hell, I regret it now. I loved the film festival, I loved the incredibly talented and soulful people I met there, I loved the video I just watched. And after all, I'd know nothing of these boys without the film. But exposure is like fibromyalgia or something--if there's no known cure, why the diagnosis? If no one is willing to help--to offer some nod of a scholarship or some low-budget program to help disheartened youth toward something, why watch? For the cinematic pleasure of it? God. For fortitude, you might say. Let's spread that fortitude. But even fortitude doesn't come without cost--cost that for many is entirely out of reach. False hopes, video rental fees--whatever. How they must feel, even today. Hopefully good--hopefully they've found their own solutions, and it looked like some of them might have, at least as of postproduction. But when a system that appears to care for you drops you on your ass to fend for yourself...well, it must hurt.

Once, a woman was tied to the back of a car and dragged across a field near my home. I was in high school. That story played--and played, and played, and then it disappeared.

Well, for what it's worth, this is how you can find the film:

This is Christine, checking out.

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