Review: ‘Quest’

Hot Docs 2017

2 mins read

(USA, 107 min.)
Dir. Jonathan Olshefski
Programme: World Showcase (International Premiere)


Quest may be one of the most important films about the American experience ever filmed. A wonderful, captivating portrayal of a family, which spans the time from Obama’s inauguration through to the election of Trump, the film manages to be both epic and intimate, offering a story that’s highly specific to a small community yet breathtakingly universal in its scope.

Christopher “Quest” Rainey’s day job is as a newspaper delivery man, throwing papers with the prowess of a professional ball player. His self-built recording studio is home to freestyle Fridays, where members of his neighbourhood gather for a mix of drum circle, therapy session and speaker’s corner, making explicit the thoughts and ideas of a group that’s not often listened to outside their circumstance. He’s a man making a go of it in North Philly, a hardscrabble area that’s teeming with life and creativity. Despite the hardship that surrounds Quest and his family, there are moments of grace and beauty throughout the film.

Thanks to the tenacity of director Jonathan Olshefski, producer Sabrina Schmidt Gordon and the remarkable Rainey family, this film serves as a portrait of a family, a community, a city and a country. It is a tale told quietly and without histrionics that still manages to be captivating. This is a film that may be overshadowed by louder, more brash works, but give Quest your time and the rewards will be endless.

Check here for showtimes.

Jason Gorber is a film journalist and member of the Toronto Film Critics Association. He is the Managing Editor/Chief Critic at and a regular contributor for POV Magazine, and CBC Radio. His has written for Slashfilm, Esquire, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Screen Anarchy, HighDefDigest, Birth.Movies.Death, IndieWire and more. He has appeared on CTV NewsChannel, CP24, and many other broadcasters. He has been a jury member at the Reykjavik International Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival, TIFF Canada's Top 10, Reel Asian and Fantasia's New Flesh Award. Jason has been a Tomatometer-approved critic for over 20 years.

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