“Our society is incredibly polarized right now and, I believe, desperate for opportunities to connect across the various barriers that we think separate us: race, class, religion, geography, political party,” says filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski. “I want viewers to see themselves in the Raineys and their story.”
First-time director Jonathan Olshefski manages to meet and successfully master that mission via his feature-length debut documentary, Quest. A film festival award winner and fan favorite during its recent theatrical release, Quest premieres on the PBS series, POV, tonight, Monday, June 18, 2018, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET. (Check local listings for air times and repeat screenings in your region.)
Skillfully combining intimate vérité footage shot over a period of eight years with clips from home movies and personal photos, Olshefski introduces us to the Rainey family of North Philadelphia. Eight years in the life of this resilient, proud blended African-American family unfolds quietly… but quickly packs a wallop.
Musician Christopher “Quest” Rainey; his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey; her cancer afflicted son, William, who struggles to meet his responsibilities as a young dad; and Chris and Christine’a’s musically gifted daughter, PJ, are the core family members in focus here. Chris and Christine’a not only provide the backbone of their immediate family, but nurture and mentor members of their community as well.
Chris hosts, promotes and produces the work of local hip hop artists in their basement home music studio, while Christine’a cares for homeless mothers and children in a neighborhood shelter. As Chris and his wife struggle to make a living and their neighborhood a safer, healthier, more productive place to live, their resilience is tested by unexpected pregnancy, serious illness, gun violence and addiction.
Chris and Christine’a play the challenging cards they are dealt by never wavering from their commitment to each other. They take their responsibility to their family and friends seriously, a mandate handed down from parent to child. Chris credits his mother with his positive, productive mindset. “Instead of doing something destructive, do something constructive,” he counsels a self-destructive hip hop artist.
The Obama and Trump Presidential elections also edge into the eight-year timeline of this film, and turn Chris and Christine’a’s attention to issue awareness and voter registration in their community. In response to Trump’s comments demeaning African-American living conditions, Christine’a calmly contradicts: “You don’t know how we live.”
Quest will be an evergreen discussion catalyst in courses and programs in high schools, colleges, universities, public libraries, community centers and churches dealing with family relationships, African-American studies, marriage counseling, community activism, social issues, inner city music and hip hop artists.
Quest debuts on the PBS series, POV, tonight, Monday, June 18, 2018, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET. (Check local listings for air times and repeat screenings in your region and https://www.pbs.org/pov/quest for supplemental toolkits, discussion guides, and DVD and online streaming availability.) –Judith Trojan