Daily archives:December 6, 2017

  • Around a decade ago, Jonathan Olshefski began taking photographs of a basement music studio in North Philadelphia, a hangout for local hip hop artists. The planned photo essay would reflect working life vs. creative life, specifically that of music promoter/producer Christopher “Quest" Rainey, owner of the studio. But Olshefski got so caught up in Rainey’s life and that of his family, that he wound up switching to film and shooting for almost a decade.The result is Quest, an intimate documentary about a working-class African-American family struggling — and ultimately coping — with crime, poverty and illness. For those who aren’t familiar with rough neighborhoods like North Philly, the film also offers a glimpse into an impoverished but tight-knit community that is both frustrated and hopeful about its prospects. Neither glibly upbeat nor utterly despairing, the film achieves a believable balance that seems to reflect the current situation of so many Americans.Quest, which opens with the 2008 presidential election as backdrop and closes with Trump soundbites from the 2016 debates, includes various events as time markers, including Obama's second win in 2012. Though Quest, who exhorts his community to vote, is clearly thrilled with those victories and is suspicious of Trump’s promises to African-Americans, it becomes pretty obvious that the national political scene doesn’t really have much of an effect on the day-to-day realities of his neighborhood.At the [...]