Sundance review: 'American Promise'
Published: January 24, 2013 01:38AM
Updated: January 24, 2013 07:42AM
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Idris Brewster, left, and Seun Summers, two friends whose lives from kindergarten through 12th grade are chronicled in "American Promise." The film debuts in the U.S. Documentary competition of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Michele Stephenson | Courtesy Sundance Institute

"American Promise"

U.S. Documentary

*** (three stars)

At two hours and 20 minutes, the documentary "American Promise" is either too long or too short. Husband-and-wife directors Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson train their cameras on their son Idris and his friend Seun as they enter The Dalton School, a prestigious private school in Manhattan. The student body is predominantly white, and Idris and Seun find themselves as part of a handful of African-Americans in class. Brewster and Stephenson proceed to capture both boys' educational lives from kindergarten through high school, a remarkable achievement that allows the boys to grow up before our eyes. The deeper issues on the state of American education, and how young black males make their way through the system, are covered lightly -- but fill up a fair amount of running time. The movie would be well served by trimming those sections out, or expanding them into a TV miniseries.

-- Sean P. Means

"American Promise" screens again: Thursday, 2:45 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinemas 6, Salt Lake City; Friday, 11:15 a.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City; Saturday, 3 p.m., Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City.