Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail.
After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years we watch as Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother.
As Antonio is drawn into the criminal justice system and events in Ferguson just four miles from her home seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young Black boy.
Through Daje’s intimate story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive.
“People been labeling me a bad kid all my life. You don’t have to really do nothing, people just expect it. So you start to expect it of yourself.” –Daje Shelton
Official Selection: 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 2017 AFI Docs Film Festival
Presented in celebration of Black History Month.