Coming to DVD next Tuesday, July 17: BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT
Dave LaMattina and Chad N Walker’s documentation of cross-cultural exchange between Brooklyn and Sierra Leone made its world premiere in Sarasota in 2010. Its festival circuit has included spots in San Francisco, Seattle, Brooklyn, Aspen, Tallinn Black Nights, and Toronto’s TIFF Kids fest.
On the surface, it wouldn’t seem there’s much in common between a bunch of 11- and 12-year-old kids from Bed-Stuy and slightly older ones in Freetown, Sierra Leone, a country still recovering from a decade-long civil war – but, at one point in time, both places were basically given up as lost to violence and poverty. A pen pal program between two schools more than 4000 miles apart serves as a bridge for its students to learn about each other, providing insight and fostering inspiration. LaMattina and Walker profile a number of engaging students on both sides of the Atlantic, but the film is most affecting when detailing how the Brooklyn kids, their eyes opened to the conditions their new friends face due to lack of basic resources, come together to raise funds for the Freetown school. It’s the simple, but profound, lesson that they can make a difference that makes this doc worth checking out, especially for parents to share with their kids – and suggests it should have a strong life in educational markets.