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Raising Bertie Film Raises Awareness of Rural Youth



There are pockets of our state where the glow of media attention never shines. In these rural corners are the scars of poverty, dried up opportunities, and lack of education resources. Yet, people in these communities carry on in what amounts to a daily struggle. Generations of families work to overcome their circumstances. Some thrive. Many don’t. When you have the privilege to peek into these towns, you begin to see most ignore — the children. What happens to rural youth in places like Bertie County, North Carolina?

The upcoming feature documentary film Raising Bertie examines just that. The film follows the journey of three young men over five years. They are 15, 17, and 19 years old when the film begins. We watch their lives unfold as we see them through school, jobs, hardships, and more. The stark division in education opportunities in rural North Carolina versus its more urban, populous counties, is so mind boggling you’ll be left questioning if the education programs are run by the same state system.

Few people intimately know life in a small, rural town. Many people harbor misperceptions and discount places like Bertie County. It’s the perpetuation of misperceptions that leave Bertie County out of the collective discussion when considering allocation of resources and investment. Rural America is rich in heritage, tradition, and sense of community. It’s time we listen to the youth voices in particular, for they have a burden to bear and a legacy to create. There are things we can learn from these corners of our state if we just paid attention. The beauty of the film Raising Bertie is how it shifts our paradigm in how we consider rural communities. President Obama has recently introduced an initiative to bring rural communities into the public eye. Raising Bertie puts us one step closer to putting a human face on what rural youth are experiencing.

The film is currently in post-production and should be showing at film festivals early 2016. Soon after there will be a wider release through a variety of outlets. Impressively, Raising Bertie has received Grants from the  MacArthur Foundation and Southern Documentary Fund.

Producer Ian Kibbe, native North Carolinian, will be attending an Artists Convention hosted by Southern Documentary Fund May 15 – 17 in Durham, NC. This event is open to the public but requires you to RSVP to reserve tickets. Ian loves talking to people about this film project so please check out the event and stop by to introduce yourself in that affable, neighborly way we do in our state. I encourage anyone with an interest in the project, like potential venues for screenings or funding opportunities for the film, to reach out to the production team at raisingbertie@gmail.com.

Margaret Byrne – Director
Jon Stuyvesant – Director of Photography / Producer
Ian Robertson Kibbe – Producer
Frances Cedro – Associate Producer
Leslie Simmer – Editor
Executive Producers Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn

Film is a joint production by:

Kartemquin Films – https://www.kartemquin.com/

Here are ways to stay abreast of what’s happening with the release of Raising Bertie:

  • Follow on social networks
Here’s what I want you to do after you see the film (and as you hear more about it):
  • Sign up for the newsletter. Go on. The link’s right up there.
  • Consider your own perceptions and revelations of rural communities. Reframe. Speak up.
  • Familiarize yourself with this corner of North Carolina. Think about what insights and opportunities we can extrapolate from Bertie County to apply to rural communities around the country.
  • See the film when it comes to your neck of the woods.
  • Tell people about Raising Bertie!
You’ll you get to know the three young men in the film as people you find yourself rooting for, not just characters in the story. Your heart, and your mind, will open up.

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