At Jason Wilson’s martial arts academy in Detroit, the students’ emotional well-being is prioritized over athletic prowess. Here, these young Black boys are given the rare and invaluable experience of being seen and cared for as the vulnerable beings they are. Over several months, this documentary follows Tamarkus, Gabe, Daniel, and Kevin as they courageously confront their inner demons. Jason is more than just a martial arts sensei to these fragile tween boys who are silently suffering an array of hurts and fears and guides them to course correct at a crucial juncture where their trauma might otherwise calcify into darker behavior. Living out his mantra “it's easier to raise boys than repair broken men,” Jason teaches emotional intelligence instead of discipline, setting these children on a path to become whole and healthy adults.
In this tender documentary, Oscar-nominated documentarian Laura Checkoway presents a rarely seen methodology of raising healthy young men, weaving intimate verité footage into emotionally profound scenes. Devoid of melodrama, this film is a gift from scene one onward. Executive produced by Laurence Fishburne and told with warmth, impressive access and touches of humor, this heartwarming film is a beautiful testament to the healing power of love.--Karen McMullen
Laura Checkoway is an Academy Award® and Emmy® nominated filmmaker. Her film Edith+Eddie won the IDA Documentary Awards Best Short. Her award-winning debut film Lucky premiered in 2014.