“For Ahkeem” is an award winning documentary. The independent film will be showing at AllWrite in February. The documentary has been shown at film festivals globally including the St. Louis International Film Festival.
“For Ahkeem” is a story following Daje Shelton. After Shelton gets expelled from public school in her junior year of high school, she is given the choice to attend Innovative Concept Academy at Blewett, an alternative school a part of the recently accredited St. Louis Public Schools District.
The documentary spans over two years as Shelton struggles to graduate. Complications arise when Shelton becomes pregnant by her boyfriend, Antonio Shumpert, a high school dropout who gets into some legal trouble. Their child’s name is Ahkeem, after whom the film was named.
The documentary highlights on very real and current issues facing St. Louis, specifically African American people growing up in the area. The film takes place before and after a state of emergency was issued for Ferguson after Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. Some main issues addressed are the school to prison pipeline, gun violence, police brutality, marginalized neighborhoods and teen pregnancy.
Shelton has been raising Ahkeem, touring with the film and working since the documentary ended. The film’s crew has created a fundraiser for Shelton’s education. The goal is to raise $10,000. Around $5,000 has been raised so far. Shelton is planning on going to Meramac Community College.
The film was beautifully constructed. It draws the viewer straight into Shelton’s world. After the film is over, the audience is left with many thoughts and a better understanding of Shelton, St. Louis natives and social injustice.
The film was directed by Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest, an Emmy award winning team. Levine is a Sundance Institute fellow and has several other critically-acclaimed documentaries. Soest is a founder of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. As a team, Levine and Soest have founded Transient Pictures, a company whose content has aired on PBS, Sundance Channel, Working Films, National Geographic, the Dramatists Guild and United States Artists, and have worked on many projects, most recently : “For Ahkeem” and “Good Fortune.”
“For Ahkeem” has, rightfully so, been awarded and spoken of highly. The Toronto Film Scene called it, “one of the most powerful documentaries ever crafted about the current nature of race relations in America.”
The film has been awarded/nominated for the Glashutte Original Documentary Award at the Berlin Film Festival, the Official Selection for the Tribeca Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize at the Independent Film Festival Boston, The Official Selection at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Official Selection at the Sheffield Documentary Festival, the Special Jury Mention at the Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival, the Best Feature Documentary at the Tacoma Film Festival, International Black Film Festival and the Sante Fe Independent Film Festival, the Outstanding Documentary Feature at the Tallgrass Film Festival, among others.
It was listed in the “Top 10 Must List” in Entertainment Weekly and chosen as the “People Pick” in People Magazine.
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