A Reckoning In Boston (2020)

  • Documentary
  • 1h 23m

**A RECKONING IN BOSTON is closed captioned. **Please manually turn on closed captions using the “CC” logo at the bottom of the player screen.

_This film is being presented as an exclusive preview. _

In the fall of 2014, Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler enrolled in a rigorous night course in the humanities at a community center in their Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Kafi, 44, sharp, witty and restless, dropped out of school at 15. She dreams of starting a land cooperative in Boston for women of color who have experienced trauma and disenfranchisement. Carl, 65, a community elder and doting grandfather, is the class’s intellectual leader. White suburban filmmaker James Rutenbeck comes to Dorchester to document the students’ engagement with their course, but as he is awakened to the violence, racism and gentrification that threaten their place in the city, he is forced to come to terms with his flawed film premise and his own complicity in racist structures. Spending more time listening than filming, James enlists Kafi and Carl as producers of the film. Five years on, despite many personal obstacles, Kafi and Carl arrive at surprising new places in their lives, and, following their lead, James does too. Bringing to light the foundations of systemic racism in one community that has spanned generations, A Reckoning in Boston shows that transformation, healing and social change begins within each of us.

Ticket Price:

  • General Public: $9
  • For Student/ Senior/ Military ticket $8 with code: DISCOUNTTIX at checkout.
  • MOPA Member: $6 with code MOPAMEMBER
  • HRW Member: $6 with code HRWFFSD
  • Note: If cost of a ticket would be a barrier for participation, please scroll down.

Watch at your own pace anytime between Feb 2-Feb 8, 2021, or join us and watch-along before the live Q&A

February 6, 2021
5:30pm (PST) / 8:30pm (EST) : Press play and begin watching the film.
6:53pm (PST) / 9:53pm (PST): Grab a quick snack and refill your beverage
7pm (PST) / 10pm (EST) : Join us for the live discussion on Facebook Live. The zoom registration has now closed.

We do not want the cost of entry to these films to be a barrier for participation in these events. If the price of buying a ticket to this film would prevent you from participating, please email the following address (filmticket@hrw.org) + we will send you a free ticket code. We have set aside a set # of tickets per film on a first come first-served basis. Once the free tickets are no longer available, the code will no longer work. For anyone that purchases a ticket, we appreciate your support. Your ticket purchase enables us to make tickets free for those who might otherwise be unable to watch. This also allows the festival to support the filmmakers for sharing their work in our festival to support the arts organizations bringing this work to you and for the festival to cover the cost of hosting the films online.


James Rutenbeck


Kafi Dixon


Carl Chandler



Bonus Content

3 mins
Young Rural Black Women’s Struggle in the Covid-19 Era

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the systemic inequalities and structural racism that have long run rampant in our country. The virus has taken a disproportionate toll on Black people in the United States, including in the south, where the majority live. With limited access to medical care and high rates of poverty, Black people living in southern states already had some of the worst health outcomes in our country. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the government’s response left people largely fending for themselves.

4 mins
US: Probation, Parole Feed Mass Incarceration Crisis

Probation and parole are promoted as alternatives to incarceration that help people get back on their feet, but instead feed bloated jail and prison populations in the United States, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a joint report released July 31, 2020.

The report, “Revoked: How Probation and Parole Feed Mass Incarceration in the United States,” finds that supervision – probation and parole – drives high numbers of people, disproportionately those who are Black and brown, right back to jail or prison, while in large part failing to help them get needed services and resources. In states examined in the report, people are often incarcerated for violating the rules of their supervision or for low-level crimes, and receive disproportionate punishment following proceedings that fail to adequately protect their fair trial rights.

3 mins
Take Action to #KeepWaterOn in the US

Access to safe and affordable water is essential to human health, and to following basic recommendations issued by United States public health experts on proper hand hygiene to help prevent Covid-19 infection. Despite this, communities of color across the US, including Native Americans living on reservations, are facing Covid-19 without adequate access to water. Despite the country’s wealth, many people in the US live with unsafe drinking water. According to a United Nations expert, the United States ranks 36th in the world in terms of access to water and sanitation. Reports estimate that nearly 77 million US residents are served by drinking water systems with one or more violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. While data are not available to disaggregate this number by race or income, we know that both are central factors in both urban and rural water vulnerabilities.

1 mins
"Why I Protest"

It’s past time to end police violence, and to hold abusive officers accountable. Governments should invest in communities instead of police.

4 mins
US: How Abusive, Biased Policing Destroys Lives

Abusive policing in Tulsa, Oklahoma that targets black people and poor people, diminishes the quality of life in all communities. Human Rights Watch released a video on the eve of the third anniversary of the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man. That killing led Human Rights Watch to investigate everyday police interactions in Tulsa as a window into the larger human rights problems with policing throughout the United States. Read our report “Get on the Ground!”: Policing, Poverty, and Racial Inequality in Tulsa, Oklahoma here.

60 mins
Discussion with Director James Rutenbeck, Kafi Dixon + HRW's Lena Simet

Recorded discussion from our Q&A with James Rutenbeck, Producer Kafi Dixon + Lena Simet, Senior Researcher and Advocate on Poverty and Inequality at Human Rights Watch moderated by HRW Film Festival Deputy Director, Jen Nedbalsky

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