Tod Lending’s long-range profile of African-American young men’s college aspirations made its world premiere at Big Sky earlier this year. Other fest screenings have included Black Harvest and Austin.
Confronting the systemic socioeconomic forces that have resulted in the sobering statistic that only sees 16% of African-American men complete college, Lending’s film focuses on two young men who are committed to being among that number. Filmed over more than five years, Krishaun and Robert stories begin in Chicago’s South Side, with challenging backgrounds involving family deaths, incarceration, and gangs, but, through the positive influence of the Urban Prep Charter Academy, they plan for a better life through education. They take different paths to their end goals, with Robert pursuing pre-med classes at the predominantly white Lake Forest College, leading to some feelings of isolation, while Krishaun seeks out a greater sense of community at the historically black Fisk University towards his dreams of a successful career in law enforcement. As Lending shows in this sensitively crafted portrait, the challenges don’t end with college acceptance, as both young men face economic and academic difficulties, forcing them to look within to recommit themselves to their own potential success.