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click to enlarge Quest



105 minutes · 2017

Jonathan Olshefski spent nearly a decade shooting this intimate and moving portrait of the Rainey family, whose life in North Philadelphia revolves around the little recording studio owned by father Christopher "Quest" Rainey. Every week Quest holds a "Freestyle Friday," opening his doors to aspiring young rappers with socially conscious rhymes (the soundtrack is sublime), but such civic-mindedness goes only so far in their dangerous neighborhood. The documentary opens with Barack Obama's election in 2008 and closes with Donald Trump's eight years later, framing the Raineys' story as one of black America and its aspirations. But the family members—Quest; his rock-solid wife, Christine'a; and their teenage daughter P.J., who gains in character and complexity as she grows up before our eyes—are too individualized to represent anything but their own determination and decency.

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