"759: Boy Scouts of Harlem" Documentary World Premiere Shines a Light on GNYC Scouts
A heartwarming independent documentary film, "759: Boy Scouts of Harlem", premiered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Scouts and leaders from Harlem's Troop 759 emerged from their limo as celebrities on the red carpet to see the true story of their troop hit the big screen.
"759: Boy Scouts of Harlem" depicts the journey of boys in Harlem's Scout Troop 759 from the city streets to the woods at Ten Mile River Scout Reservation's Camp Keowa. Filmmakers Jake Boritt and Justin Szlasa realistically show the boys experience at summer camp, the quintessential American rite of passage, through recognizable experiences: fear and ultimate conquering of swimming in the lake, adolescent voice breaking and young crushes on the Russian girls working in the dining hall, late night talks with their troopmates and leaders, and ultimately, going home. The humor and relationships of the boys make the film come to life.
The film follows 11-year-old Keith Dozier as he experiences summer camp for the first time. His grandmother, "Ms. Ann", is his troop's Assistant Scoutmaster, and has been for years. The film shows her connection with the boys and her community but her message resonates how her grandson is getting too old to want his grandmother around and about the need for more male role models in the boys' lives-- women are with boys at home, at school, and even in Scouting. Scoutmaster Okpoti Sowah provides a wealth of wisdom for the boys, describing over the campfire the differences between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, and how he met with Malcolm X face to face. Still, despite the leaders' commitment to their boys, they realize that at some point, a younger generation of leaders has to step up to keep this vibrant piece of the fabric of their community intact. One of the most poignant moments is the troop's visiting the Ten Mile River Museum and Keith seeing a picture of his dad on the wall when he attended camp there too. You see the recognition in his eyes that Scouting gives you the chance to be part of something greater than yourself, part of a grand tradition of boys becoming men of skill and character. More information and the film's trailer can be found at www.harlemscouts.com.