'Freedom Writers' author to show movie, give talk
A movie about a young teacher who gained fame for guiding students thought to be “unteachable” will be screened next week in Northeast High School’s auditorium.
And that teacher, Erin Gruwell, will be there to introduce the film and answer questions at its conclusion.
Stories from an Undeclared War, which chronicles Gruwell’s successful struggle to reach and teach at-risk students who later become known as the Freedom Writers, will be in the spotlight on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The story of the first-year Los Angeles teacher and her students might sound familiar. How those students changed themselves and graduated already was the subject of a best-selling book, The Freedom Writers Diary, and Freedom Writers, a 2007 movie that starred Hillary Swank as Gruwell.
Stories from an Undeclared War, however, is a documentary that presents the story from a different angle. It includes personal interviews with Gruwell and some of her students.
Those students, all 150 of them, graduated from high school and went on to college or careers. They began the Freedom Writers Foundation to spread the word. The documentary contains intimate accounts from Gruwell’s students.
Why is a documentary about a West Coast educator and her students premiering at Northeast High? The answer’s not all that complicated.
First, the film is “a celebration of teachers,” Gruwell said in a phone interview on Oct. 12.
Second, Gruwell is a fan of Tony Danza’s best-selling book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, which chronicles the TV star’s stint teaching English in 2009-10 for a show broadcast on A&E, said assistant principal Rob Caroselli.
Gruwell said Danza wrote about her, too.
“It’s mutual admiration,” she said.
Gruwell also knows Northeast teacher Joseph Connelly. The Freedom Writers Foundation provided him with a scholarship to study in California.
Connelly told Gruwell that he’d like her to come to Northeast, she said.
The film is making the rounds of film festivals right now, Gruwell said, and the details of a theatrical release have not been completed.Admission to the showing is free, Caroselli said. ••