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'Quest': A family of overcomers filmed over 10 years

TIGHT: Christopher 'Quest' Rainey, left, with wife Christine'a Rainey (image credit: Sundance)

FEATURE-LENGTH documentary 'Quest' charts the Raineys from North Philadelphia, who director Jonathan Olshefski captures over a 10-year period as they serenely deal with terminal illness, an accidental shooting gone very wrong, claiming victory over drug addiction and literally surviving a walk through fire; in addition to managing everyday economic pressures, unfair police harassment, raising responsible children and more.

Tight parental unit Christopher, or, ‘Quest’ as he’s known to fellow rappers and those who visit his neighbourhood recording studio-cum-community radio station each day and Christine’a have two children; tween daughter PJ and married young father William whom we meet as a frustrated cancer patient longing to move out of his parents’ crowded yet welcoming home and take his own family with him.

Watching Christopher tenderly nurture PJ’s drumming and DJ-ing abilities in between his early morning paper round and other commitments at his studio and alongside the local Black Lives Matter movement is just one testament to the Rainey’s dedication to their loved ones; one which holds fast despite various threats to their peace and safety.

Christopher’s enthusiasm for the grind is plain to see on William, who explains to the camera that he is motivated to beat the illness so that his baby son "doesn't have to see what struggling feels like”. 

The spectre of politics and its impact on working families is not ignored by Olshefski, who records the family’s sense of joy and hope at Barack Obama’s presidency and what it signifies for a people who are too far few generations removed from slavery and the poverty it inspired for many African-Americans still feeling the effects today. We also see the Raineys stay glued to a small, square television with an analogue aerial during the advent of Donald Trump’s election and their reaction to news reports that mention racially-skewed “intimidation” of voters “at the polls”.

Epitomising the neighbourhood father and the Proverbs 31, wake-up at dawn, productive mother, Christopher and Christine’a’s influence over their community is heartening to watch and gives viewers hope that a people ‘like that’ - unselfish, generous in their dealings with strangers and genuinely concerned about their impact; still exist outside of a bygone era.

Quest hits UK cinemas on August 18.

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