Friday, October 18, 2013

Interview: Michèle Stephenson talks 'American Promise' and 13-Year Filmmaking Journey on INDIEwire

It will make its broadcast TV debut on TONIGHT, February 3, 10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET, on PBS, as part of the network's Black History Month programming. Here's our interview with the filmmakers ahead of tonight's premiere:

Sitting across from Haitian filmmaker Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster is like being in the presence of the real-life Huxtables. They both laugh at this, but the similarities are undeniable. She worked as a lawyer (a human rights attorney), and he as a doctor (a Harvard-trained psychiatrist), before forming Rada Film Group in the 1990s. They both have high expectations for the family they're raising in their Brooklyn brownstone, and to watch Brewster give a thoughtful speech to his oldest son Idris is like watching a scene pulled straight from Cliff and Theo on The Cosby Show.

Brewster and Stephenson spent 13 years documenting the educational journey of Idris and his friend Seun Summers as the boys attended The Dalton School, an elite K-12 private school on New York's Upper East Side. Their resulting feature documentary American Promise gives a candid and personal look at the challenges black boys and their families face in a society striving to define itself as "post-racial." The film has already earned acclaim on the film festival circuit, winning a Special Jury prize at Sundance and considerable Oscar buzz.

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