FREEDOM WRITERS (’07) summary

Today’s movie is about people: the society they are trapped in, the people around them,
and the hardships they face. Just 2 years after the LA riots of 1992, the
tension and anger between ethnic groups is still high. Our story first follows the life of young
Eva Benitez: a latina growing up in Long Beach California, with all the hopes and dreams
of any American. But hers is the hard knocks life: her brother
was shot her father arrested when she was a child and Eva herself joined
a Latino gang. 1994, Long Beach, California is a hard place
to live and harder place to teach. A lesson Erin Gruwell is gonnna learn teaching
English for at-risk students at Woodrow Wilson High School. A school once praised and highly integrated,
now filled with tension between people. Erin is a woman with principles, a real champion
of civil rights, feeling called to educate youth at risk. Its difficult to even talk with them when
they split into their little groups and don’t bother with the class. But first things first, she takes attendance to get get to know the students: Brandy Ross, Gloria Munez, Andre Bryant Ben Daniels, Sindee Ngyugen, Jamal Hill, Eva Benitez, and things go downhill: “Eva” is quick to correct her name pronunciation
and leaves when Jamal starts whining about the class he almost comes to blows with Andre
after being called a dummy. No one swings at first but Erin’s first day
is not going well. During her break, she meets with Brian Gelford
and Margaret Campbell. Gelford is welcoming though he doesn’t really
care much for the problem students because they’ll quit (like they do) and Erin will
be free to teach a different class. Once they quit
Cut to Eva riding bus, thinking about her life: she’s on probation, her probation
officer has forced her to go to school, and Eva points out how prison and school are like
each other: the students gather up into tribes (Latinos, Blacks, Asians) and get into battles
with each other. Ready to fight at a moment’s notice, Eva notes this as she watches a black student in an orange hoodie get a bit
too close to the latinos. The next day, Erin tries to teach and fails
at getting their attention. So, Eva sneaks out to let in some of her buddies. When back in class, Jamal makes a ruckus by taking
Gloria’s bag and before Erin can do anything. Bam! Gunshots! It’s going down, just like Eva said. People are running in the halls, an alarm
is going off, it’s like a prison riot, with the Latinos and the ‘ghetto-ers’ (Eva’s
words not mine) in particular going at it. Reality sinks in for Erin who back at home,
locks her pearls away, when we meet Erin’s husband, Scott, before they’re off to have
dinner with Erin’s dad, though not before Erin makes Scott promise to not tell her dad
about what happened that day. Her dad, Steve, isn’t too thrilled with
her teaching job, and is dismissive of the students at Woodrow, but after Scott jumps
to her defense, Steve accepts it. It’s night time and Eva and Sindee got plans
for the night. Eva with her group, and Sindee with her crew,
both go to the same convenience store. All is going well until Eva’s crew spots
the same student in an orange hoodie, who frustrated at losing an arcade game, demands
a refund from the store owner. As Grant, the man in the orange hoodie, storms out of the store, Eva’s boyfriend, Paco has the perfect opportunity and attempts a drive-by shooting to kill Grant, he misses
accidentally killing Sindy’s boyfriend while Grant runs away. *ding* (Grant gets caught, and wrongly accused of the shooting.) As a witness, Eva must testify at court; but
blood protects blood so she protects “her own people” in her testimony. The school teachers have a meeting about the
shooting: bringing to Erin’s attention of Eva’s role as sole witness in the shooting. In class, Gruwell intercepts a racist drawing
by one of her high school students and uses it to teach them about the Holocaust, comparing
Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich to a gang. A confrontation happens: students vs teacher, or in a more personal way of seeing it the streets vs. the suburb girl Eva blasts out, “You don’t know nothing.” Why should I listen to you? Why are you are pretending to care? Don’t you talk to me like you understand
because you do not! After she cools down Tito brings up a question
about what the Holocaust is. Erin is eager to educate her students, so
she requests materials for the class though Margaret is quick to shoot down any hopes
for giving them resources. Since Margaret isn’t any help, in fact is
against helping, Erin goes to Brian for help, who bites back with sarcasm: these kids don’t
care about learning, they’re the ones making life dangerous, and the teachers have it way
harder than any of the students. She walks out on him but has an idea: Back
in class, she introduces The Line Game! She asks a yes/no question, you step up to
the line if yes, stay away if no. At first it’s small things: What movies
you watched, what you music you listen to. It’s all easy going But then it gets serious: Do you live in the ghetto? Do know someone in prison or in juvie? Ever been in Juvie? Does anyone know any dealers? Does anyone know any gangsters? Has anyone lost a friend to gang violence? More than 1 friend? More than 3? More than 4? With their final answer, she asks them to Pay their respects. It’s eye-opening for everyone and the class
ends with Erin giving them journals to write in. If they want to, they can leave it in a closet at the end of class so that Erin can read them. and on the night of the parent-teacher conference
she decides to take a look at the diaries: What she finds in them are experiences like
abuse, seeing friends die, parents fighting and so on, these kids took this as a chance
to just get everything off their chest. Erin organizes the field trip to the Museum
of Tolerance, where they learn about the Holocaust and afterwards they meet with real Holocaust
survivors at the Marriot. The experience leaves everyone changed for
better. In the first sophomore class of the year Erin makes her class do a “Toast for Change”,
allowing everyone to open up about their struggles and what they wish to change about themselves:
Gloria starts off by saying she could have been a pregnant in high school like her mom,
Marcus wishes to graduate even though his mom has kicked him out of the house and Alejandro
recounts an entry from his diary about the his miserable life that even though his mom
is dead, his father is without a job, and he could easily become homeless; even then
he is supported by friends, and his teacher who have all together given him hope. Whether on the bus, on a bench, at school
or at home, the class reads the diary of Anne Frank, transfixed on the experiences of the
girl. Eva, in particular, connects deeply with Anne
Frank, becoming totally gripped by story but ultimately feels betrayed by Erin: the ‘hero’
dies and the bad guys win, what the hell does that say for Eva or anyone else? That they’ll die and fail to be anything? Marcus is quick to defend Erin and Anne Frank:
Anne isn’t dead, her story lives on and is proof that they too can survive. Marcus did some research on Anne Frank which
gives Erin an idea: try to get Miep Gies, the woman who helped protect Anne Frank and
her family, to come to the school! The class are excited and are so keen on the
idea that they make a group fund to pay for Miep Gies’s ticket by holding a fair and
a concert. Much to Margaret’s frustration, In the library, Miep Gies tells her experience
when she helped Anne Frank, her family, and the Van Pels hide from the Nazis; when Marcus
tells her that She is his hero, she rebuffs him, she was just doing the right thing, anyone
especially the students can be and are heroes and that they “within their own small ways,
can turn on a small light in a dark room.” These two events inspire Eva to break free
of the demands of her father “to always protect her own” rather than tell the truth. This also gives Marcus the courage to go back
to his mom who, thankfully, takes him back. At Grant’s trial, Eva shocks the courtroom “Paco did it.” by revealing that Paco actually killed Sindy’s boyfriend in the store; Grant is spared of
being convicted and Eva is attacked and
threatened but ultimately spared by members of her gang and ends up going to live with
her aunt in order to keep herself safe. But the joy ends that night when Erin’s husband, Scott, divorces
her. In the final days of the sophomore class,
the class realize that Erin will not be teaching the junior’s class. But the students are taken aback. That’s a dumb rule, she totally can teach
them! Ben suggests that Erin fights for her right teach juniors and seniors which the rest of the class agree with. So the decision is put forward to the board, though Brian and Margaret are very against his Meanwhile, Erin asks her students to write
their diaries in book form. She compiles the entries and names it The
Freedom Writers Diary. In tribute to the ‘Freedom Riders”, a group of civil activists. Erin fights this decision, eventually convincing
the superintendent to permit her to teach her kids’ junior and senior year, much to
their joy. The film ends with a note that Erin successfully prepared numerous high school students to graduate high school and attend college. For many, they were the first in their families to do so. Thank you so much for watching, if you enjoyed it leave us a like down below and subscribe to get updated on our latest uploads. Until next time, I got some writing to do.

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