________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 11 . . . .February 4, 2005


The Journey of Lesra Martin.

Cheryl Foggo (Writer & Director). Selwyn Jacob (Producer). Graydon McCrea (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2002.
45 min., VHS, $99.95.
Order Number: C9102 128.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Elaine De Bonis.

*** /4


The inspirational story of Lesra Martin, a young poor illiterate boy struggling on the violent streets of Brooklyn, who, through a chance encounter in 1979 with a group of Canadians, overcomes the confines of his life. When Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton, along with a group of friends, meet Lesra in the summer of 1979, they believe they can provide Lesra with the chance to fulfill his dreams to become a lawyer. It is only when they return to Canada with Lesra that they realize that he will need to learn to read and write in order to fulfill his dream. Inspired by the injustice he reads in the wrongful imprisonment of American boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Lesra becomes a hero when he is instrumental in overturning Rubin Carters' murder conviction. Finding the courage to change his own life, today Lesra is a lawyer and motivational speaker on the world stage.

     Narrated by Lesra, the video is an instructive tool for grades 5 to 10 history or social science classes or for inspiring adults with learning challenges. I found a lack of depth in Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton's account of teaching Lesra to read, but their commitment to Lesra and their determination to aid him, provides a compelling account of the dedication each had for Lesra. Cheryl Foggo has received numerous nominations and awards for her filmwork, including in 1992 a Best Educational Program, a Gold Apple Award and a Short Drama Award for Carol's Mirror, which was co-written with her husband and directed by Selwyn Jacob. Her short story, "Looking for Africa," was selected by the CBC to be adapted for the Love and Marriage television anthology series. She was also one of three winners of the 1995 Great North Television Writing Competition, and in 1998 her North of 60 teleplay, Love Hurts, was a finalist for an AMPIA award. Cheryl was a member of the popular Canadian series North of 60 story editing and writing team for two and a half seasons. Selwyn Jacob has produced more than a dozen films since joining the National Film Board in 1997 as the Special Mandate Producer for Cultural Diversity for Western and Pacific Centres, based in Vancouver. His credits also include such acclaimed documentaries as Jeni LeGon - Living in a Great Big Way, honoured by the US National Black Programming Consortium for its portrait of one of the first Black women entertainers in Hollywood; and John McCrae's War: In Flanders Fields, a moving look at the WWI Canadian army doctor who penned the famous poem "In Flanders Fields." Prior to joining the NFB as producer, Jacob was an independent filmmaker who directed two award-winning NFB releases, Carol's Mirror and The Road Taken, which won the Canada Award at the Geminis. In 1997, the Black Achievement Awards Society of Alberta honoured Selwyn Jacob with the John Ware Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award. Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada's Documentary West studio, Graydon McCrea is an award-winning filmmaker who has produced or executive produced more than 100 films. His productions have been broadcast in more than 75 countries and have been honoured with an array of awards around the world. Born in Manitoba, McCrea joined the NFB in 1976. In 1983, he took a leave of absence to produce, direct and co-edit Summer of the Loucheux. This documentary about the Loucheux Indians won top prizes at film festivals across North America and Europe, as well as Best Director and Best Documentary honours at the Alberta Film Awards.


Elaine De Bonis of Etobicoke, ON, is a librarian currently in career transition.

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