Overflowing with comedy and drama, The Boys of Baraka unfolds on the mean streets of Baltimore and in the wide-open spaces of Kenya. There its heroes face the crossroads of childhood and adolescence - or as these proud middle-schoolers would put it, boyhood and manhood.

This documentary provides eloquent and infuriating testimony to the failures of the Baltimore public school system. But the two-year program it's based on - sending a score of 12- and 13-year-old African-American boys to a boarding school named Baraka, in Kenya's East African wilderness - remains a sign of hope, even after the program disintegrates. And the movie is a sign of hope, too. It's unceasingly involving and entertaining.

The Boys of Baraka (ThinkFilm) A documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Unrated. Time 84 minutes.

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