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American Promise

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PBS Premiere: February 3, 2014


American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through Dalton, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of Rada Film Group, ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by CPB. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium. To coincide with the POV documentary, Spiegel & Grau will publish Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life, by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson with Hilary Beard. Where American Promise raises provocative questions, Promises Kept delivers answers, combining insights Brewster and Stephenson derived from their own experiences with the latest research on closing the black male achievement gap, providing readers with an unprecedented toolkit full of practical strategies from infancy through the teenaged years.

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Film Information

American Promise (120 min.)

Premiere Date: February 3, 2014

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmakers: Joe Brewster , Michèle Stephenson Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Press Release | Idris and Seun: Milestones | Fact Sheet | Critical Acclaim


Joe Brewster
Joe Brewster
Michèle Stephenson
Michèle Stephenson

Film Update

Critical Acclaim

Not only provides illuminating insights into racial and cultural issues, but explores family dynamics common to all”

— Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

While they didn't set out to make a film about what newspaper columnists refer to as the 'black male achievement gap,' Brewster and Stephenson have done just that, and it's hard to imagine a more penetrating and powerful one.”

— Godfrey Cheshire,

In his State of the Union address this week, President Barack Obama spoke about making the American Dream possible for everyone. He noted that minorities still face challenges that other Americans do not. The documentary American Promise explores race, class and opportunity in America...Tough...heartbreaking.”

— Anne-Marie Green, CBS News "Up to the Minute"

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