Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers

Overview
Freedom Writers is a 2007 American drama film starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank
Hilary Ann Swank is an American actress. Swank's film career began with a small part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then a major part in The Next Karate Kid , as Julie Pierce, the first female protégé of sensei Mr. Miyagi...

, Scott Glenn
Scott Glenn
Theodore Scott Glenn is an American actor. His roles have included Wes Hightower in Urban Cowboy , astronaut Alan Shepard in The Right Stuff ,Emmett in Silverado , Commander Bart Mancuso in The Hunt for Red October , Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and The Wise Man in Sucker Punch -Early...

, Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE is an English actress. She is perhaps best known for her performances in the British comedy television series Up the Garden Path, the Harry Potter film series and Vera Drake...

 and Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Galen Dempsey is an American actor, known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Prior to Grey's Anatomy he made several television appearances and was nominated for an Emmy Award...

. It is based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary
The Freedom Writers Diary
The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them is a non-fiction 1999 book written by The Freedom Writers, a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and their teacher Erin Gruwell. It is the...

by teacher Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell is an American teacher known for her unorthodox teaching method, which led to the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them...

 who wrote the story based on Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. The title is a play on the term "Freedom Riders", referring to the multiracial civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 activists who tested the U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

 of interstate buses in 1961.

The idea for the film came from journalist Tracey Durning, who made a documentary about Erin Gruwell for the ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 program Primetime Live.
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Encyclopedia
Freedom Writers is a 2007 American drama film starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank
Hilary Ann Swank is an American actress. Swank's film career began with a small part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then a major part in The Next Karate Kid , as Julie Pierce, the first female protégé of sensei Mr. Miyagi...

, Scott Glenn
Scott Glenn
Theodore Scott Glenn is an American actor. His roles have included Wes Hightower in Urban Cowboy , astronaut Alan Shepard in The Right Stuff ,Emmett in Silverado , Commander Bart Mancuso in The Hunt for Red October , Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and The Wise Man in Sucker Punch -Early...

, Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE is an English actress. She is perhaps best known for her performances in the British comedy television series Up the Garden Path, the Harry Potter film series and Vera Drake...

 and Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Galen Dempsey is an American actor, known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Prior to Grey's Anatomy he made several television appearances and was nominated for an Emmy Award...

. It is based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary
The Freedom Writers Diary
The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them is a non-fiction 1999 book written by The Freedom Writers, a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and their teacher Erin Gruwell. It is the...

by teacher Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell is an American teacher known for her unorthodox teaching method, which led to the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them...

 who wrote the story based on Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. The title is a play on the term "Freedom Riders", referring to the multiracial civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 activists who tested the U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

 of interstate buses in 1961.

The idea for the film came from journalist Tracey Durning, who made a documentary about Erin Gruwell for the ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 program Primetime Live. Durning served as co-executive producer of the film.

Plot


The storyline with the movie takes place between 1994-1996, beginning with scenes from the 1992 Los Angeles riots
1992 Los Angeles riots
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a...

. Swank plays the role of Erin Gruwell, a new, excited schoolteacher who leaves the safety of her hometown, Newport Beach, to teach at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, a formerly high achieving school which has recently put an integration plan in place. Her enthusiasm is rapidly challenged when she realizes that her class are all "at-risk" high school students, also known as "unteachables", and not the eager-for-college students she was expecting. The high school students assimilate
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 into racial groups in the classroom, fights break out, and eventually most of the high school students stop attending class. Not only does Gruwell meet opposition from her high school students, but she also has a difficult time with her department head, who refuses to let her teach her high school students with books in case they get damaged and lost, and instead tells her to focus on training them discipline and obedience.

One night, two high school students, Eva (April Lee Hernández
April Lee Hernández
April Lee Hernandez is an American film and television actress. She has also been credited as April L. Hernandez and April Hernandez Castillo.-Biography:...

), a Mexican girl and narrator for much of the film, and a Cambodian refugee, Sindy (Jaclyn Ngan), frequent the same convenience store. An additional student, Grant Rice (Armand Jones) is frustrated at losing an arcade game and demands a refund from the owner. When he storms out, Eva's boyfriend attempts a drive-by shooting, intending to kill Grant but misses, accidentally killing Sindy's boyfriend. As a witness, Eva must testify at court; she intends to guard "her own" in her testimony.

At school, Gruwell intercepts a racist drawing by one of her high school students and utilizes it to teach them about the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. She gradually begins to earn their trust and buys them composition books to record their diaries, in which they talk about their experiences of being abused, seeing their friends die, and being evicted. Determined to reform her high school students, Gruwell takes on two part-time jobs to pay for more books and spends a lot more time at school, to the disappointment of her husband (Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Galen Dempsey is an American actor, known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Prior to Grey's Anatomy he made several television appearances and was nominated for an Emmy Award...

). Her students start to behave with respect and discover a lot more. A transformation is specifically visible in one student, Marcus (Jason Finn
Jason Finn (actor)
Jason Finn is an American actor.He was born in Los Angeles, California. He played one of the students in Erin Gruwell's English class in the film Freedom Writers, and also appeared in the film Mercy Street, both of which were released in 2007.-External links:***...

). Gruwell invites various Jewish Holocaust survivors to talk with her class about their experiences and requires the students to attend a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance
Museum of Tolerance
The Museum of Tolerance , a multimedia museum in Los Angeles, California, USA, with an associated museum and professional development multi-media training facility in New York City, is designed to examine racism and prejudice in the United States and the world with a strong focus on the history of...

. Meanwhile, her unorthodox training methods are scorned by her colleagues and department chair Margaret Campbell (Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE is an English actress. She is perhaps best known for her performances in the British comedy television series Up the Garden Path, the Harry Potter film series and Vera Drake...

).

The following year comes, and Gruwell teaches her class again for its sophomore (second) year. In class, when reading The Diary of Anne Frank, they invite Miep Gies
Miep Gies
Miep Gies was one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and several family friends in an attic annex above Anne's father's place of business from the Nazis during World War II...

 (Pat Carroll
Pat Carroll (actress)
Patricia Ann “Pat” Carroll is an American actress. She performed in numerous stage productions, and portrayed the roles of "Bunny Halper" on CBS's The Danny Thomas Show, Shirley Feeney's mother on ABC's Laverne and Shirley, and is the voice of the villainous Ursula in The Little Mermaid film...

), the woman who sheltered Anne Frank
Anne Frank
Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank is one of the most renowned and most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Acknowledged for the quality of her writing, her diary has become one of the world's most widely read books, and has been the basis for several plays and films.Born in the city of Frankfurt...

 from the German soldiers to talk to them. After they raise the money to bring her over, Miep shares her experiences hiding Anne Frank. When Marcus tells her that she is his hero, she denies it, claiming she was merely doing the right thing. Her denial leads Eva to rethink her plan to lie during her testimony. When she testifies, she finally breaks down and tells the truth, much to some of her family members' dismay and to her own risk.

Meanwhile, Gruwell asks her students to write their diaries in book form. She compiles the entries and names it The Freedom Writers Diary. Her husband divorces her and Margaret tells her she cannot teach her kids for their junior year. Gruwell fights this decision, eventually convincing the superintendent to permit her to teach her kids' junior and senior year. The film ends with a note that Gruwell successfully prepared numerous high school students to graduate high school and attend college.

Soundtrack



Common
Common (rapper)
Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. , better known by his stage name Common , is an American hip-hop artist and actor....

 lent his talents to the soundtrack with "A Dream" , featuring and produced by The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas are an American pop group , formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1995. The group includes rappers will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, and singer Fergie. Since the release of their third album Elephunk in 2003, the group has sold an estimated 56 million records worldwide...

 member will.i.am
Will.i.am
William James Adams, Jr. , better known by his stage name will.i.am and occasionally by his other stage name Zuper Blahq, is an American rapper, musician, songwriter, singer, actor and producer...

. The soundtrack also includes the Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur
Tupac Amaru Shakur , known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2007, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world...

 song "Keep Ya Head Up
Keep Ya Head Up
"Keep Ya Head Up" is a late 1993 hit by Tupac Shakur. #11 in About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs, with "Dear Mama" voted #4.It was first released in Shakur's 1993 album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., later appearing after his death in 1996 in his Greatest Hits compilation...

".

Instrumental sections of Sia
Sia Furler
Sia Kate Isobelle Furler or simply Sia, is an Australian pop, downtempo, and jazz singer and songwriter. In 2000, her single, "Taken for Granted" was a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom. Her 2008 album, Some People Have Real Problems peaked in the top 30 on the Billboard 200...

's "Breathe Me" accompany the film's television trailer.

External links