Black Movies Matter

On the morning after #OscarsSoWhite, we’re feeling inspired to share a powerful little film with a big message—made right here in Baltimore. Here’s why “A Dream Preferred” gets our nod for the most inspiring movie we saw in 2015. 

By Jessica Bizik

There’s a scene in “A Dream Preferred” that will stick with you forever.

The documentary short by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (of Loki Films) follows six young black men who do the impossible: raising $28k in nine days to get Taharka Brothers Ice Cream rolling—literally, in a big pink food truck. (Specifically, an empowerment-fueled “change-mobile” that now drives around Baltimore serving up sweet treats with a side of social consciousness.)

As part of their Kickstarter campaign, the team stops by Uncle Wiggly’s in Mount Washington (which proudly serves their ice cream) to do some fundraising. Devon Brown—a charismatic, button-down-clad college grad—commands some attention from customers when he introduces himself as Taharka’s CEO inside the shop.

But the other guys struggle outside—playing rock/paper/scissors to see who’ll approach the (entirely white) clientele first. When they finally summon the nerve to pitch their brand, every single patron either dismisses them or flat-out ignores them. It nearly crushes them (and everyone who sees the film).

But—spoiler alert—Taharka Brothers always rally!

Watching these guys go from feeling invisible to invincible is a thing of pure beauty.

SEEING EACH OTHER

I first saw “A Dream Preferred” two weeks after the Baltimore Uprising at an outdoor screening hosted by the Maryland Film Festival, where folks from all over the city sat nestled arm-to-arm in folding chairs in an alley off of North Avenue. 

I was lucky enough to sit next to Devon Brown’s grandmother, who must have felt my body shake as I tried to choke back tears during that pivotal scene, which so movingly captures the impact of white privilege on young black men in Baltimore that I will never be the same.  

I can still conjure up the mix of sorrow and shame I felt as this great lady talked with me about how scenes like that have been all too common in her life experience. But far more often, I think about how it felt when the two of us cheered together, along with every other human being in the alley, as we watched these local guys beat the odds. 

That's the thing about movies. The good ones bring us together. They open our minds. They melt our hearts. And when they’re really, really, really good, sometimes they can even change somebody's life. (This one changed mine.)

So tonight, I hope you’ll cozy up on the couch and treat yourself to this truly uplifting 22-minute film—preferably with a pint of Taharka's radically delicious Honey Graham. 

p.s. Also check out Loki Films' full-length documentary The Boys of Baraka (2005), which follows 20 Baltimore kids (including a familiar face from "A Dream Preferred") on a journey to attend 7th and 8th grade at a boarding school in Kenya.

SO TELL US: What movie most inspired you last year—or any year? (Leave a comment to share!)