Competition Documentary Features
DIRECTED BY MADELEINE SACKLER
EAST COAST PREMIERE/2ND US SHOWING
All rhetoric about equal opportunity aside, the world is not a fair one as this heart-rending documentary reveals. Harlem and the Bronx have some of the worst schools in the nation. They also have a couple of the best. Enter the Harlem Success Academy, the big rock charter mountain of opportunity where 95% of third graders aced the statewide tests. So what’s the catch? You have to win the lottery to go. First-time director Madeleine Sackler and award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held capture the worlds of five families holding their breath with hope. Equal time is given to the politicians and policy makers—people who shape the fates of New York City’s poorest children. We go into the homes of the hopefuls and into the halls of power of the stern-faced administrators. Whose names will be drawn? These children are involuntary beauty contestants, all longing to be crowned with educational opportunity. This bewildering, totally compelling film forces the inevitable question: Why can’t every child get a phenomenal education if the model to do it exists?
DIRECTED BY ANA PAULA H. HABIB AND KRISTIN BENITEZ
USA, 2009, 29 MIN
Banking on hope and a dream, a charter school principal in Gainesville, Florida, has vision to spare but is flummoxed by politics and math.