Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

Film on College Access Makes a ‘Statement’ at AFI DOCS Festival

By Mark Walsh — June 18, 2018 2 min read

Every spring, the AFI DOCS film festival brings some of the best new documentaries to Washington, with several each year having themes of education or youth.

This year’s festival, held June 13-17 by the American Film Institute, upheld that tradition, and even put education documentaries in two of its most prominent slots.

“Personal Statement,” a film about three high school seniors at different school in the New York City borough of Brooklyn who serve as peer college counselors at the same time they are going through the admissions process themselves, was the subject of the festival’s opening night screening and party at the Newseum. I have more to say about that film below.

Another prime festival slot went to the filmmaker Steve James, a co-director of the classic 1994 documentary about high school basketball and more, “Hoop Dreams.” He was honored at the festival’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium for his body of work.

As I have discussed in this blog, James has a documentary series airing on the cable channel Starz this fall called “America to Me,” about the year he (and his multiple documentary crews) spent at Oak Park and River Forest High School, a single, racially diverse school in Oak Park, Ill. James aired the first, hourlong episode at AFI DOCS. I’ll have more about that and the conversation with the director in another post, as well as discussions of some of the other education-related films in additional posts this week.

Personal Statement,” by director Juliane Dressner and co-director Edwin Martinez, seeks to focus on college access and the lack of meaningful offerings of college counseling at too many schools. The film follows its three subjects at a critical time in their young lives. Karoline, Christine, and Enoch are trying to keep their own college admission plans on track while spending time with slightly younger peers in their low-income Brooklyn high schools.

PERSONAL STATEMENT Trailer from Julie Dressner on Vimeo.

We see Karoline, an immigrant and a lesbian, adroitly confronting anti-gay attitudes in a classroom discussion. Christine has a natural interest in political activism, but she has to convince her mother of the wisdom of some of her college choices. Enoch, meanwhile, lives with his sister and has to track down his mother to get the forms he needs to complete a scholarship application.

None of these hurdles keep the vibrant, personable subjects from doing what they can to instill college goals in younger high school students who might not naturally be on the higher education track.

There is joy and heartbreak when the colleges respond to the three subjects’ college applications. Such moments always provide for drama in film, but “Personal Statement” is about much more than those responses.

The film will air on PBS in the fall, the directors said after the AFI DOCS screening.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools
Head of Lower School
San Diego, California
San Diego Jewish Academy

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read