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The Film tells the story of Vin Shambry, a Black 12-year-old boy in Portland, Oregon. Homeless, Vin sleeps under a tree in the park with his mother and baby sister, daily palling around with his school-yard friend, the daughter of a famous shoe designer. Vin’s 6th-grade class embarks on an educational coming-of-age adventure known as Outdoor School. Reluctant to leave his family, Vin goes on the trip, where his worldview is transformed by nature and caring adults.
For the first time, he learns what it means to be a kid. He faces the dilemma of sacrificing his only pair of sneakers, his prized Deon Sanders Nikes, to help his team win in tug of war. Ultimately, Vin navigates the tension between his family life and the great outdoors while masking his poverty at all costs to protect himself and the people he loves. The experience changes his life: and watching it will change yours.
Portland in the 90s was a place of environmental activism, with Mayor Bud Clark exposing himself to art, figure skater Tonya Harding, the beginning of coffee culture, and a successful Trailblazers team. In fact, much of this story has been romanticized by productions like IFC’s Portlandia.
However, under that very white veneer, the Black community was fighting to flourish amidst gang violence, gentrification, and a very real memory of racist police actions like The Burger Barn Incident. This is a tale of Black Portland in the ’90s. A story that hasn’t been told and whose time has come. Viewers will see and feel what it is like to grow up Black in America and how joy and transformation can be found even against the backdrop of poverty.
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