Meet Kandice, a precocious, insightful African-American teenager who participates in METCO, a voluntary school integration program in Boston. Since kindergarten, Kandice has risen before dawn each day to catch a bus out to the public schools of Weston, an affluent, predominantly white suburb. In Far From Home Kandice shares her conflicted feelings and keen observations about traversing these two different worlds. Now in her last two years of high school, she takes us inside her personal triumphs, struggles, and daily negotiations: serving as the first black class president at her high school; playing the college admissions game; defying the stereotypes that she feels from white society; living up to her family's tradition of activism. Kandice's grandfather, a civil rights activist who was murdered in 1968, helped found the busing program, and her mother was among the first classes of black students bused to the suburbs in the late 1960s. Through cinema verité and interviews, Far From Home weaves together Kandice's current school life with a family history that has been profoundly shaped by racially integrated educational experiences.
Running Time: 39 minutes
The Making of Far From Home
Filmmaker Rachel Tsutsumi began researching and thinking about this project in the beginning of 2001. As a former high school student in a Boston suburb that was part of the METCO program, Rachel realized years later that she had very little knowledge of the program or understanding of the experience of the METCO students. Upon discovering that METCO is the longest-running voluntary school desegregation program in the country (it began in 1966), and that it is continuously fighting for state funding to stay afloat, she believed this would make a good subject for a documentary.
Rachel worked for a year doing preproduction, meeting with school districts around Boston to gain access, and looking for students to be subjects in the film. By the summer of 2002, she decided to focus on only one student, Kandice, and her remarkable family. Rachel began taping in the fall of 2002 with the generous permission of the Weston Public Schools. Working alone, she taped Kandice for days and sometimes weeks at a time—at home very early in the mornings, at school, on the weekends with her friends, on the school bus, at theater rehearsals, at the hair salon, immediately following the SAT, at church with her family. As a one-person camera and sound crew, Rachel was very mobile and maintained an intimate style of shooting. It became clear to Rachel early on that the focus of the film would be less about the busing program, and more about Kandice—telling Kandice's story, from her point of view, in her own words.
In the end, after two years of taping, Rachel captured 105 hours of footage. Editing began in June 2004 with the support of the CNN/HBO grant. The film was completed and aired on CNN in February of 2005.