ROCKLAND — The powerful new documentary film about racial and economic inequalities in cities and white privilege, “A Reckoning in Boston,” will be screened at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. Director James Rutenbeck will be present for questions and discussion following the film.

White suburban filmmaker Rutenbeck went into a black community in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester to document low-income adult students’ engagement with a rigorous night course in the humanities offered at their community center. The Clemente Course is taught in 34 sites across the U.S., to those who have experienced homelessness, transitioned out of incarceration or faced barriers to a college education. The Clemente mission is to foster critical thinking through deep engagement with history, literature, philosophy and art history. Clemente students, its proponents assert, become fuller and freer citizens.

Director James Rutenbeck

But over time Rutenbeck is forced to come to terms with a flawed film premise and his own complicity in racist structures. As he spends time with two of the students, Carl and Kafi, he’s awakened to the violence, racism and gentrification that threaten their very place in the city.

Troubled by his failure to bring the film together, he spends more time listening than filming and eventually enlists Kafi and Carl as collaborators/ producers with a share in the film revenues. Five years on, despite many obstacles, Kafi and Carl arrive at surprising new places in their lives, and following their lead, Rutenbeck does too.

Rutenbeck’s nonfiction films have screened at various forums including Cinema du Reel, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery and the Flaherty Film Seminar. He is a two-time recipient of the Alfred I. du Pont Columbia Journalism Award for his work as producer of the PBS series “Unnatural Causes,” about health disparities in the U.S., and “Class of ’27,” about the lives of young children in rural America. His film “Scenes from a Parish” aired on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2009. Rutenbeck has been awarded grants from Sundance Documentary Fund, LEF Moving Image Fund, Southern Humanities Media Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

COVID health and safety protocols will be in place at the theater for this screening. Audience capacity will be capped at 30%. All patrons and staff are required to wear masks for the duration of the event, regardless of vaccination status. These guidelines may be revised as local conditions change; please check the Strand Theatre website for the most current information.

Tickets are $9/Adults, $8/Seniors and Younger than 12, $7/Strand Members. For tickets or more information, visit, email,  or call (207) 594-0070.