There are always other paths of life we may never tread, moments we will never experience and struggles we may never be pitted against. What Jonathan Olshefski’s documentary film Quest: The Fury and the Sound does is bring an alternate perspective of reality to the seemingly blind, and raises a sense of awareness of how ignorant and absent politicians can arguably be. Statistics mean everything, and as long as the is a positive majority, the minority can be free to suffer. Quest is an exploration of social issues, including sexuality, poverty, tragedy, and a representation of the importance of art and music to those who have so little.
Filmed over the course of ten years, the documentary follows the real lives of an African-American family in the North Philadelphian suburbs, beginning in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama, to the most recent presidential campaign of Donald Trump. The central individuals are the Rainey family, consisting of parents Christoper “Quest” and Christine’a “Ma Quest, and their daughter Patricia “PJ”. In a dangerous yet homely neighbourhood, the couple attempt to give their child the best upbringing possible. But living under hardships still underestimated in modern media and news, unravelling events and every day struggles presents new challenges to the family, with life-changing consequences.
The concept of long-term filming is becoming more common in the current day and age, but regardless of its popularity it commands respect. Olshefski must be commended for taking what can only be considered a giant leap of faith. Filming one family for almost a decade proves to be a costly project, and requires firm belief in the content being produced. How was the director to know that what he was shooting would make an interesting 110-minute feature? He wasn’t. Likewise, the Raineys allowed cameras to follow their movements through their darkest hours, something that individuals with far less character would not have tolerated. Clearly this family have a message to tell, and they are desperate to communicate it to the world.
The stories in the documentary are incredibly powerful, made more so by the people telling them. Each individual has their own tale of hardship, suggesting nothing comes easy in this life, at least not for those who started at the bottom. The Rainey family symbolise unity, love and hope throughout, and Quest’s message is made ever more humbling to the outside observer by the level of pride the family exhibit for what little they have. Home is home, family is family, money is an object, not a necessity to living a fulfilling life. Of course the Raineys aspire to rise up the social ladder, but their appreciation for the simple things in life is heartbreaking yet beautiful to observe.
Quest is released in selected cinemas on 18th August 2017.
Watch the trailer for Quest here: