March 9-12, 2015 • Austin, Texas
American Promise follows two African-American boys and their families for 12 years as they navigate the terrain of race, privilege and opportunity at a rigorous New York City private school.
Michèle Stephenson & Joe Brewster
American Promise provides a rare look into black middle class life while exploring the common hopes and hurdles of parents navigating their children’s educational journey. It begins in 1999, when filmmakers Joe and Michèle turned their cameras on their son and his best friend, as they entered the prestigious Dalton School.
The boys struggle with stereotypes and identity, and ultimately take divergent paths on the road to graduation. Meanwhile, the parents struggle to balance their high expectations with the cultural and social obstacles their sons face. The film challenges assumptions about educational access in the 21st century. Ultimately, it asks each of us: What is the American Promise?Brewster family, photo courtesy of American Promise film
Best Kept Secret
In Best Kept Secret, a Newark, NJ teacher struggles to prepare her students with autism to survive in the brutal world that awaits them once they graduate.
Director: Samantha Buck
Producer: Danielle DiGiacomo
JFK High School, located in the midst of a run-down area in Newark, New Jersey, is a public school for all types of students with special education needs, ranging from those on the autism spectrum to those with multiple disabilities.
Janet Mino has taught her class of young men with autism for four years. When they all graduate in the spring of 2012, they will leave the security of the public school system forever. Best Kept Secret follows Ms. Mino and her students over the year and a half before graduation. The clock is ticking to find them a place in the adult world – a job or rare placement in a recreational center – so they do not end up where their predecessors have, sitting at home, institutionalized, or on the streets.Mino and Robert courtesy of Best Kept Secret film
In the South Bronx, over 50% of young men do not finish high school. One man did something about it.
Forbes Education Columnist, Producer/Director: James Crotty
Told with humor and suspense, and shot in a gritty verite style reflecting its unvarnished South Bronx milieu, Crotty's Kids follows five Eagle Academy debaters as they evolve from content-light amateurs to critical thinking heavyweights.
However, debate is only an ongoing McGuffin to the heart of the story: young men in search of an intellectual father figure. Coach Crotty arrives in their lives with the clock running out. In two years, the young men of Eagle are likely to become grist for a staggering statistic: 50% of urban males never graduate high school.
eduCAUTION is a short documentary film on higher education, debt and the American Dream.
Director/Producer: David Esfeh, J.D.
Producer: Ben Bhatti, J.D.
eduCAUTION is a short, journey documentary film created by graduate students who are concerned about the future of the American higher education system and its competitiveness in today’s globally competitive marketplace. By focusing on the economic realities of the American higher education system, the film seeks to offer perspectives about the increasing concerns of many Americans regarding the continuing rising costs of higher education and the growing burden of student debt.
The journey to make this thesis film starts in Southern California, home to one of the best university systems in the world. eduCAUTION continues by taking viewers on a cinematic journey to Northern California, Texas and Washington D.C. By offering different perspectives from students, academics, politicians, voters and experts, the film provides a venue for different viewpoints on the student debt crisis in America.Photo courtesy of eduCAUTION film
Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to transform societies.
Director: Richard Robbins
Producer(s): Tom Yellin, Holly Gordon, Paul G. Allen, Jody Allen & Martha Adams
Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to transform societies The film presents the remarkable stories of nine girls around the world, told by celebrated writers and voiced by renowned actors.
We use powerful storytelling to deliver a simple, critical truth: educate girls and you will change the world.Ruksana photo courtesy Girl Rising film
If You Build It
From the director of WORDPLAY and I.O.U.S.A. comes a captivating look at a radically innovative approach to education.
Director: Patrick Creadon
Producers: Christine O'Malley & Neal Baer
From the director of WORDPLAY and I.O.U.S.A. comes a captivating look at a radically innovative approach to education. IF YOU BUILD IT follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives.
Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what's possible.
Directed by Patrick Creadon and produced by Christine O’Malley and Neal Baer, IF YOU BUILD IT offers a compelling and hopeful vision for a new kind of classroom in which students learn the tools to design their own futures.
As tuition rates spiral beyond reach and student loan debt passes $1 trillion (more than credit card debt), IVORY TOWER asks: Is college worth the cost? From the halls of Harvard, to public colleges in financial crisis, to Silicon Valley, filmmaker Andrew Rossi assembles an urgent portrait of a great American institution at the breaking point.
Director: Adam Traynor
Through interviews with Columbia Professor Andrew Delbanco (College), Anya Kamenetz (DIY U, Generation Debt) and Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma) in addition to profiles at Arizona State, Cooper Union, and Sebastian Thrun’s Udacity—among several others—IVORY TOWER reveals how colleges in the United States, long regarded as leaders in higher education, came to embrace a business model that often promotes expansion over quality learning. But along the way we also find unique programs, from Stanford to the free desert school Deep Springs to the historically black all women’s college Spelman, where the potential for life-changing college experiences endure. Ultimately, IVORY TOWER asks, What price will society pay if higher education cannot revolutionize college as we know it and evolve a sustainable economic model?
MedoraIn America's basketball heartland, four boys from rural Medora, Indiana fight to end their high school team's losing streak, as their dwindling town faces the threat of extinction.
Director/Editor/Producer: Andrew Cohn
Director/Producer: Davy Rothbart
Producers: Rachel Dengiz, Davy Rothbart, Andrew Cohn & Rachael Counce
Years ago, Medora, Indiana was a booming rural community with prosperous farms, an automotive parts factory, a brick plant, and a thriving middle class. The factories have since closed, crippling Medora's economy and its pride. The population has slowly dwindled to around 500 people. Drug use is common, the school faces consolidation, and as one resident put it, "This town's on the ropes".
Medora follows the down-but-not-out Medora Hornets varsity basketball team over the course of the 2011 season, capturing the players’ stories both on and off the court. The Hornets were riding an epic losing streak when we arrived, and the team’s struggle to compete bears eerie resonances with the town’s fight for survival. Medora is an in-depth, deeply personal look at small-town life, a thrilling, underdog basketball story, and an inspiring tale of a community refusing to give up hope despite the brutal odds stacked against them. On a grander scale, it’s a film about America, and the thousands of small towns across the country facing the same fight. As one towns-person told us, “Once we lose these small towns, we can't get them back."Photo courtesy Medora film
A 4-year-old, a teenager and an adult, all on the autism spectrum and at pivotal moments in their lives, work with their perceptual and behavioral differences in a "neurotypical" world.
Director: Adam Larsen
Producers: Ronald Sigurd Larsen & Linda Iraggi Larsen
Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the "neurotypical" world — the world of the non-autistic — revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.Photo courtesy Neurotypical film
Once in a Lullaby: The PS22 Chorus Story
They went from YouTube famous to being the closing act at the Oscars, can these 5th grade kids from Staten Island entertain the entertainment elite?
Director/Producer: Jonathan Kalafer
Producers: Steve Kalafer, Bao Nguyen
The PS22 chorus from Staten Island became world famous after their YouTube videos went viral. This feel-good documentary follows them to their big performance as the closing act at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, where creative differences, lost voices, and homesickness threaten their performance. Can these 5th graders entertain the entertainment elite?Gregg Breinberg and students photo courtesy Once in a Lullaby film
TEACHWe all have had a teacher who’s shaped us, inspired us, even scared us, and whom we can credit with having empowered us to become who we are today. In his third documentary to look at education in America, Davis Guggenheim brings us TEACH, which asks the question: what does it take to be a teacher? Offering a rare glimpse inside four public school classrooms, Guggenheim invites us to follow the struggles and triumphs of America’s education system through the eyes, minds and hearts of its most essential resource: teachers.
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Executive Producer: Jim Berk
Producers: Lisa Zimble & Shannon Dill
Great teachers shape us, inspire us, entertain us, push us and even at times scare us. For many of us, it was a great teacher who saw a spark in us and somehow helped make us who we are today.
It is estimated that within the next 10 years, 50 percent of America’s teachers will be eligible for retirement. With this staggering fact in mind, Academy Award®-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim has decided to ask a timely question: What does it take to be a teacher? The answer is TEACH, a rare glimpse inside four public-school classrooms filmed over an entire school year through the eyes, hearts and minds of four inspirational teachers.
As intense as it is emotional, this year in the life of four public-school teachers illustrates how tenacity, passion and a belief in innovation drive these educators as they navigate the daily ups and downs of the 2012-2013 school year. Viewers are taken on a journey inside the classrooms of Matt Johnson, a fourth-grade teacher at McGlone Elementary School in Denver, Colorado; Shelby Harris, a seventh-grade math teacher at Kuna Middle School in Kuna, Idaho; Lindsay Chinn, a ninth-grade algebra teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, also in Denver; and Joel Laguna, a 10th-grade AP World History teacher from Garfield High in Los Angeles, California. These educators use conventional and unconventional methods and do whatever it takes to overcome obstacles and strive for success.Photo courtesy TEACH film
TEACHED Vol. 1TEACHED Vol. I is a trilogy of short films providing a candid examination of the causes and consequences of the achievement gap, particularly as experienced by urban minority youth.
Director/Producer: Kelly Amis
TEACHED Volume I features the first three films of the innovative TEACHED short film series: The Path to Prison, The Blame Game: Teachers Speak Out and Unchartered Territory. Each film addresses topical issues around the American education system, especially those affecting urban minority youth.
Created by former teacher and education writer Kelly Amis, TEACHED Vol. I is meant to remind viewers of the promise made over half a century ago in Brown v. Board of Education that all U.S. students would receive an equal education. The films are candid and provocative, intended to provoke conversation and motivate change around long-standing race and income-based inequities in our public schools.Photo courtesy TEACHED Vol I film
Super Secret Screening
Synopsis: Shhh! It's a secret. Stick around after the screening for a Q&A with the Director/Producer.
SXSW Texas High School Shorts
From SXSW Film comes this 90-minute compilation of the best short films directed and produced by Texas High School students in 2013.
The Biggest Story Problem: Why America's Students are Failing at MathAn independent documentary film exploring the middle school math crisis in the United States, from the perspective of one math teacher-turned-game designer, 15 teachers willing to try something new and hundreds of middle school students from across the country.
Director: Scott Laidlaw
Director/Producer: Jennifer Lightwood
Producer: Scott Laidlaw
The Biggest Story Problem is an independent documentary film that explores a previously unexplained phenomenon: why students in the United States perform well in math in their elementary years, score above average until 8th grade, and then precipitously drop to the bottom tier in the world by 10th grade.
With highlights from top-scoring Finland to an exploration of the largest textbooks in the world and how they affect students in our country, this is not a story of failure, but one of hope.
From the perspective of one teacher-turned-game designer, Scott Laidlaw, you will meet the teachers, students and schools on the frontlines, taking charge in changing our nation’s story of math education.Photo courtesy The Biggest Story Problem film
The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation
The Raising of America is a 6-part documentary series that reframes the way we look at early child health and development.
Director: Llew Smith
Director/Producer: Healing the Hurt
Why in the richest nation in the world do so many of our children fare so poorly? How can we do better? The Raising of America is a 6-part documentary series which explores why a strong start leads not only to better individual outcomes (learning, earning and mental and physical health), but also a healthier, safer, more prosperous and equitable nation.
The episode Healing the Hurt (wt) travels to Oakland and Philadelphia where up to 40% of children have symptoms similar to combat vets with PTSD. What happens when we ask not “What’s wrong with you?” but “What happened to you?” and how can we help individuals and traumatized neighborhoods heal?
We the Parents
We the Parents follows the first group of parents to use California’s controversial “Parent Trigger” law to transform their failing school.
Director: James Takata
Producers: Jennifer Welsh Takata & James Takata
We the Parents follows the first group of parents to use California’s new “Parent Trigger” law to transform their failing school. Along the way, these parents (aided by a non-profit organization called Parent Revolution) discover their own power to create change and become pioneers of a nascent movement.
The idea of giving parents a legal voice in school reform is a novel one, and the film captures the controversy that ensues when parents attempt to exercise their rights. While recent documentaries have highlighted the crisis of our education system, We the Parents examines a potential solution, tracking the evolution and spread of parent empowerment legislation across the United States.Photo courtesy We the Parents film
Yuck! A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch
A brave kid filmmaker goes undercover to reveal the truth about the food service program at his elementary school.
Director: Zachary Maxwell
Producer: Maxwell Project
Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the city's school food service program.Director Maxwell photo courtesy Yuck film