“For Ahkeem” follows the story of Daje Shelton, a 17-year old girl who ends up in a court-supervised alternative high school after getting into a fight at her school. She’s from a tough St. Louis neighborhood, but realizes she wants a better future for herself and is committed to turn her life around.
But staying focused on school proves to be a challenge for the eleventh grader, who loses multiple friends to gun violence. She also falls in love for the first time; his name is Antonio. Daje gets pregnant and is faced with the harsh reality of having to raise her son under the same rough circumstances she grew up in. The story takes place just as the Ferguson conflict is erupting a few miles down the road.
The documentary film is helmed by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Jeremy S. Levine and Landon van Soest.
“At its heart, ‘For Ahkeem’ is a modern coming of age story, and I hope it carries all of the hope, nostalgia, and heartbreak we all associate with being seventeen years old,” Van Soest told IndieWire in a statement. “As a Black girl growing up in North St. Louis, I think Daje’s story speaks volumes about the immense challenges we face as a country to address racial and economic disparities in our education and justice systems.”
In a joint statement, the filmmakers said, “For us, ‘For Ahkeem’ is about an extraordinary young girl who never gives up. We capture Daje’s personality and experiences with astonishing intimacy—with all of her positive attributes, flaws, choices good and bad laid bare with artful nuance that resembles a fiction film. But Daje is neither Malala (the exception) nor Precious (the victim); she is one of the millions of Black women and girls who are somewhere in between, doing their very best to keep their heads above water, to not slip even though the weight of the world is on their backs.”
“For Ahkeem” premieres on Sunday at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.
Watch the exclusive trailer below.
Check out the official poster below.