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"RAISING BERTIE is the kind of movie that understands the intrinsic link between the political and the personal."
Daniel Schindel, Paste Magazine
"Margaret Byrne's RAISING BERTIE is a testament to patience, empathy, and a willingness to allow the subjects and the material to define the form of a documentary, not the other way around."
Mark Dujsik, Mark Reviews Movies
"Byrne is the furthest thing from a manipulative filmmaker. But RAISING BERTIE is moving nonetheless."
Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
"Raising Bertie paints a coming-of-age portrait that is constantly aware of the external influences that culminate to shape the identity of its three subjects—Dada, Junior, and Bud—but presents them with such personable observation that the young men’s complexity outshines all culturally and narratively shaped expectation."
David Shreve, Audiences Everywhere
"One of the best movies you'll see this year...Insightful, raw, and visually beautiful."
Glenn McDonald, IndyWeek
"Impressive directorial debut... alternates between triumph and tragedy, but there's never a moment that doesn't feel intimate and authentic."
Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
"Powerfully drives home what is obvious and yet what most of us fail to see: Bertie County is America. It's Chicago. It's Detroit. It's Los Angeles. It's a portrait of communities and families striving to do right by their kids, but where schools and lack of job programs fail to meet communities' most desperate needs."
Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun-Times
"Deserves a place beside the great achievements in longitudinal film."
Scott Pfieffer, The Moving World
"A moving chronicle, and a potent treatise on institutional failings that knows to demonstrate said problems instead of merely preaching them. "
Daniel Schindel, Paste Magazine
"The experiences and challenges of the rural poor might make it into the national conversation as an abstraction, but rarely with the specificity of this intimate portrait of a black community."[...]"puts faces on a labor force that helps feed many Americans and generally goes unseen and unheard."
Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
"Essential... Charts nothing less than what it’s like to try to grow up free in the prison capital of the world."
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"Politically timely and artistically consummate...this focused and nuanced look at a resilient but deeply strained African American township carries urgent implications for all of us."
Nick Davis, Film Comment
"Now more than ever, the world needs Raising Bertie, especially the white world...Raising Bertie puts viewers in the shoes of these boys, offering an understanding and appreciation of their lives – and, in turn offers a viewing experience that is wholly relatable for everyone, regardless of race, gender, age or economic background."
David J. Fowlie, Keeping It Reel
"It’s impossible to watch Raising Bertie, a deeply felt documentary about three young black men coming of age in rural North Carolina, and not be reminded how the misguided post-election directive to empathize with certain residents of low-opportunity rural America callously fails to extend to people of color...[Raising Bertie] shows us lives that are rich, nuanced and—despite obstacles and errors in judgment—deep with resilience."
Stephen Gossett, Chicagoist
"The conversation of the United States is often defined by what people think and feel on the coasts, and we were certainly reminded recently that there can be very different worldviews and experiences in the heartland that are rarely shown for public consumption. And yet it never feels like Byrne’s film is designed as a statement about all black young men living on the edge of poverty and falling through the cracks of our educational system. It is a case study, a film driven by the people it captures."
Brian Tallerico,
"Byrne masterfully uses her access to create empathy for the teenagers' plight...Raising Bertie strongly executes the things that a documentary in this genre should accomplish–it points to a larger issue by using the affected individuals to tell an honest story."
Nicholas Allen, Vox Magazine
"Over the years, Kartemquin Films has produced some of the most powerful and fascinating documentaries of our time–Hoop Dreams, Stevie, Life Itself and The Interrupters among them and their latest release, Raising Bertie, deserves a place among them."
Peter Sobczynski,
"A work that digs deep and examines the factors that go into creating and destroying dreams among rural youth."
Steve Prokopy, Ain't It Cool News
Byrne masterfully uses her access to create empathy for the teenagers' plight...Raising Bertie strongly executes the things that a documentary in this genre should accomplish—it points to a larger issue by using the affected individuals to tell an honest story.
Nicholas Allen, Vox Magazine
"Here is a documentary that follows the daily lives of three African-American young men at a time in our nation when it is imperative that racial stereotypes be removed from their representation. Set in Bertie County in Eastern North Carolina, the film takes an intimate and insightful six-year look into the lives of Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell as they experience the uncertain and pivotal teenage years, while trying to determine their own identities and future."
David J. Fowlie, Keeping It Reel
"This lovingly produced yet unflinchingly shot film- compliments to director of photography Jon Stuyvesant- follows 3 young black men over a 6-year period, as they deal with the relationships between themselves, their community, their families, and their scant educational and employment opportunities."
"Byrne offers an unusually intimate view of these young men’s lives, telling stories that are often left out in discussions of racism and poverty."
Sarah Boslaugh, Playback: STL
"Riveting... there are no true happy endings, but after spending two hours with these remarkable people and gaining an understanding of their plight, it renews your faith in the human spirit."
Al Alexander, The Patriot Ledger
"Raising Bertie is the Boyhood of this year's AFI DOCS, but with more of an urgent social subtext... However, Byrne’s film stays away from being overly didactic. The movie may hint at bigger narratives regarding race and America’s wealth gap, but it also never stoops to suggesting that the documentary is anything more than a specific snapshot of three people’s lives. Its smallness is its greatest virtue."
"Brilliantly weaves the young men’s stories together, as they transition from their teens into manhood, engaged in a shared struggle for social and economic survival."
"A subject that we all think we know about, but have never seen this intimately, and it’s powerful."
Rob Tiller, The Casual Blog.
"A faithful depiction of three young black men growing up in rural North Carolina. After the premiere of the film, the subjects came on stage and one of the men said that that moment was “the happiest day of my life.” Real honest emotions from real subjects, real people, real experiences."
Tom Roston, POV blog.
"In a time when political dysfunction, farcical pop culture recaps and kitten videos seems to capture and hold the media and nation’s attention, Raising Bertie fills a tremendous void. Through careful, long-form visual storytelling Raising Bertie artfully explores larger problems plaguing the South... Every state legislator, every high school student and dammit, every citizen who cares about the state needs to watch Raising Bertie."
Sandra Davidson, Bit & Grain
"Astounding and powerful."
Bryn Gelbart, Indiewire
"A curiously intimate look at what life is like for young black men in an impoverished rural community where opportunities are scarce and potential pitfalls are everywhere... The film resonates powerfully with contemporary issues of racial inequality, educational opportunities and the Black Lives Matter movement."
Glenn McDonald, The News & Observer