I was recently made aware of a new documentary film in production, titled 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem. The film is a 72 minute documentary coming in the Spring of 2009.
759: Boy Scouts of Harlem is an upbeat, family friendly verite-style documentary about the unexpected power of Scouting. Eleven year old Keith Dozier, Troop 759’s newest Scout, is the film’s star and we follow him from the streets of Harlem to Camp Keowa in upstate New York. We see how Scouting transcends race, geography and national origin to teach life skills and build character.
759: Boy Scouts of Harlem Trailer
759: Boy Scotus of Harlem follows Keith Dozier, Troop 759’s newest Scout, from his home in Harlem to Camp Keowa in upstate New York. The film is structured around a week at camp where Keith and his fellow Scouts confront the kinds of challenges they don’t find in Harlem.
The film opens with Keith sitting in a church basement—the kind of place where most Scout Troops in America meet—he wears a brand-new uniform with no badges or awards, just a Troop 759 patch. Keith explains he joined Scouts because he is following in his father’s and his uncle’s footsteps. He says he wants to earn Eagle Scout before he gets to college—he’s not sure if he can do it, but he thinks he can do it. We cut to the interior of his grandmother’s Harlem brownstone. It is early morning just before Keith leaves for camp. Keith shows us a photo of his father when he was in Boy Scouts.
We see Keith and his fellow Scouts–Mani, KC, Devon assemble at Scoutmaster Okpoti Sowah’s apartment tower and pack up for camp. Ms. Ann, Keith’s grandmother and 759’s assistant scoutmaster drives the group to Camp Keowa—with stops along the way at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.
Troop 759 packs into their green platform-tents at campsite 5 as John Restrepo and Andy Cabrera, senior camp counselors, explains that Camp Keowa is a place where kids from the city can come to experience a completely different way of life—and ultimately help them become better people.
759: Boy Scouts of Harlem Production Notes
Troop 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem was shot over the course of 2007 and 2008 in New York City and at Camp Keowa, part of Ten Mile River Scout Camp in Narrowsburg, New York. Directors Jake Boritt and Justin Szlasa effectively became part of the Troop 759 family to earn the trust of their subjects. Troop 759 was shot on the Sony Z1U in HDV and edited on FinalCut Pro in New York City. Additional footage was provided by the TMR Scout Museum.
759: Boy Scouts of Harlem was independently financed on a micro-budget by Justin Szlasa. The film received cooperation and enthusiastic approval from the Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils, and the Boy Scouts of America, but the project received no material support from the Scouts.
To learn more about 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem visit the film’s website, http://www.harlemscouts.com.