Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler enrolled in a rigorous night course in the humanities at a community center in their Boston neighborhood of Dorchester.
Kafi, 44, sharp, witty and restless, dropped out of school at 15. She had her first baby a year later and two more soon after. Carl, 65, who lives on a small pension and disability payment in one of Boston’s most dangerous neighborhoods, began the class with a keen interest in learning but little faith in educational institutions.
White suburban filmmaker James Rutenbeck came to Dorchester to document the students’ engagement with the Clemente Course in the Humanities. The Clemente Course is taught in 34 sites across the U.S.--to those who have experienced homelessness, transitioned out of incarceration or faced barriers to a college education. The Clemente mission is to foster critical thinking through deep engagement with history, literature, philosophy and art history. Clemente students, its proponents assert, become fuller and freer citizens.
But over time James is forced to come to terms with a flawed film premise and his own complicity in racist structures. As he spends time with Carl and Kafi, he’s awakened to the violence, racism and gentrification that threaten their very place in the city.
Troubled by his failure to bring the film together, he spends more time listening than filming and enlists Kafi and Carl as collaborators/ producers with a share in the film revenues. Five years on, despite many obstacles, Kafi and Carl arrive at surprising new places in their lives, and following their lead, James does too.
Film Screening & Discussion
Join us for a film screening of A Reckoning in Boston followed by a conversation with tenant and community leaders featured in the film. This screening is part of the National Low Income Housing Coalition's Summer of IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-racism, and Systems-thinking) educational series.
How this 2-Part Event Works
- First, decide how you want to watch the film.
- Register for on demand access. Registered participants will receive free streaming access to "A Reckoning in Boston" 72 hours leading up to the discussion event on July 17, 2022; OR
- Register to join a virtual community watch party. Registered participants will gain access to a community room where we will watch the film together on July 17 at TBD.
- Second, register for the panel discussion. On Sunday, July 17, 2022, from TBD, join a discussion with Kafi Dixon and other tenants featured in the film. Registered participants will receive the event link in their inboxes, including reminder emails leading up to the event. (ASL services will be provided)
A Reckoning in Boston
Processing all this and entering into the film with my own character voice required patience, time and support from a team of people of color who had my back: Kafi, Carl, Noland, Llewellyn Smith and two friends of Kafi, Tolga Shields and Fernando Ona. Stepping back, there’s some irony in a white suburban filmmaker being encouraged to find and value his voice by people whose stories he had set out to mediate. I hope that is evident to viewers of A Reckoning in Boston.
Panelist - Producer of A Reckoning in Boston, Executive Director of Color Rural & Urban Farmer Cooperative and CEO of Seeds of Change Solidarity Network
Moderator - NLIHC Senior Vice President for Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Public Health professional and founder of the Everybody Eats Project
LOST NATION PICTURES, LTD & INDEPENDENT LENS present A RECKONING IN BOSTON executive producers LLEWELLYN SMITH, ANNE MARIE STEIN, LOIS VOSSEN & NOLAND WALKER producers CARL CHANDLER & KAFI DIXON co-producers DIANA FISCHER coordinating producer HEATHER MERRILL cinematography ALLIE HUMENUK & P.H. O’BRIEN music NATE MAY colorist CHAD SMITH sound design & mix GREG MCCLEARY directed, written & edited by JAMES RUTENBECK.
“A reckoning in boston asks its audience — and filmmaker — to examine privilege”
“An absolute must-see”
“A RECKONING IN BOSTON will encourage honest dialogue about systemic racism and oppression in the U.S. at a time when a national conversation, from the Deep South to the NorthEast corridor, is urgently needed to catalyze lasting change.”
“An absolute must see, especially for white audiences who think they know their hometown"
“Don’t miss this powerful film that lays bare the transformative force of the humanities in our lives in these turbulent and troubling times!”