Raising Bertie

A Feature Length Documentary on Youth in Rural America


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An Intimate Portrait of Three African American Boys Coming of Age in Rural North Carolina

Set in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in Eastern North Carolina, Raising Bertie takes audiences deep into the emotional lives of three boys - Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell - over six-years as they come of age. This powerful vérité film weaves the young men’s stories together as they try to define their identities; they navigate unemployment, institutional racism, violence, first love, fatherhood, and estrangement from family members and mentors.

Rural minorities like the youth in Bertie represent some of the nation's most vulnerable and least visible individuals. Rural child poverty rates continue to rise and poverty rates for minorities in rural areas are nearly three times that of rural whites. Despite this, the national media and educational reform movement have focused primarily on the needs of urban and non-rural youth, largely ignoring this vital segment of America. This is particularly troubling considering that rural areas provide most of our food, house most of our prisoners, and provide a large number of our armed personnel.

Raising Bertie is an experience that asks us to see this world through their eyes, inciting recognition of lives and communities too often ignored. Intimate access provides a unique longitudinal observation of the everyday, and what happens in the lives of young people caught in the complex interplay of generational poverty, educational inequity, and race.

Kartemquin Films Presents A Beti FIlms Production Director and Producer Margaret Byrne Producer Ian Robertson Kibbe
Director of Photography and Co-Producer Jon Stuyvesant Editor Leslie Simmer Additional Editors Ryan Gleeson Hillary Bachelder Frances Cedro
Executive Producers J. Cole Justine Nagan Gordon Quinn

All the Queen's Horses

A Documentary Film Examining the Largest Municipal Fraud in U.S. History



Stealing more than $37,000 a day in her more than twenty years in office, Rita Crundwell became one of the nation’s leading quarter horse breeders, traveled the world, and threw lavish parties, all while forcing staff cuts, police budget slashing, and leaving public infrastructure in disrepair.

In 2012, Crundwell was arrested as the largest municipal fraud perpetrator in the nation’s history, embezzling upwards of $50 million as the comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, a city in the heart of Illinois.

All the Queen’s Horses aims to illuminate this landmark case and bring to light the blatant negligence of auditors and bankers the public relied on to keep their tax dollars safe. The eye-opening story of two decades of fraud at this magnitude is a reminder and a lesson: such catastrophes need only blind eyes and moral blindness.

Helios Digital Learning Presents A Kartemquin Production Director and Producer Kelly Richmond Pope
Cinematographer MARGARET BYRNE Associate Producer KRISTYN AVALOS
American Promise.jpg

American Promise

A Documentary 13 Years in the Making


A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class Black families as they navigate the ups and down of parenting and educating their sons.

Directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
Cinematography by Margaret Byrne and Jon Stuyvesant
Additional Editing by Margaret Byrne


emmy nominated

Official Selection
New York Film Festival 2013

Winner Jury Award Sundance Film Festival 2013

Winner Grand Prize
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2013


Music in Mali


Mali is said to be the birthplace of the Blues.

Filmed over the course of five years, the feature length documentary, Music in Mali, follows the lives of several well known Malian musicians who are creating inspiring, heartfelt music in some of the most difficult living conditions in West Africa. When the President of Mali is overthrown and Mali is divided, all the musicians from the north are forced to leave their homes and flee to Bamako. In the face of war, music becomes their only weapon.

Director:  Aja Salvatore
Producer and Director of Cinematography: David Nicholson
Field Producer & Additional Cinematography: Margaret Byrne
Editors: Margaret Byrne & David Nicholson

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