Through fly-on-the-wall footage and insightful interviews, director ShakaJamal chronicles the effort to create a first-of-its-kind yoga and mindfulness program for Oakland Unified School District middle schools. Aimed at expanding students’ awareness and refining their goals, the initiative has been a unique success, and I Am Hope offers a poignant portrait of the day-to-day struggles of diverse young people united in their desire to pursue big dreams.
As both director and interview subject, ShakaJamal’s presence is felt in front of and behind the camera, not only in terms of where he chooses to focus his lens but also in his discussions of the project’s origins and hopes for its future. “I’m passionate about your goals because you’re going to be the ones leading,” says the filmmaker to one of his students, and that zeal is plain to see in this heartfelt profile of a special program. —Zaki Hasan
Artivist, ShakaJamal’s effort to navigate a challenging year to create a first-of-its-kind youth wellness program for Oakland Unified School District where students engage in yoga and mindfulness activities transforming them into leaders.