OUSD Students and Staff Featured in New Documentary Homeroom Heading to 2021 Sundance Film Festival This Month
Oakland – Starting in 2019, a documentary film crew worked in OUSD watching the educational process and seeing the lives of students, along with staff and families. The intent was to show urban education through the eyes of Oakland students, specifically students at Oakland High School and on the All City Council. But then, during the 2019-20 school year, two major events changed the trajectory of the project: the start of the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent intensification of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Now, the movie Homeroom is complete and at the end of this month, will be making its premiere at the world famous Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Of course, because of the pandemic, this year the festival will be taking place virtually, and all Oakland residents have the chance to watch it, and vote for Homeroom.
The movie starts focused mostly on anxiety over test scores and college applications then gives way to uncertainty springing from a rapidly developing pandemic. After the death of George Floyd outraged the nation, the film adds a view of students leading the fight to eliminate the OUSD police department. Emmy Award-winning director/cinematographer Peter Nicks captures the resilient and defiant energy of the 2020 senior class in his final chapter of his trilogy of films centered in Oakland examining the relationships between the people and health care, criminal justice, and education.
The previous two films, The Waiting Room about Highland Hospital (Amazon) and The Force about the Oakland Police Department (Netflix) were released to critical acclaim and have screened worldwide.
As the documentary crew says, “Homeroom immerses us in the lives of students trying to make the most of their final year in high school amidst a procession of blows. Nicks’ trusted, attentive camera and overall vérité approach trace these emotional journeys in real time, while self-recorded social media videos root us in the students’ authentic perspectives. The result is a revealing, outspoken coming-of-age story that taps into the collective experience of a nation in transition calling out for change.”
Oakland High School graduate, NBA star and rapper Damian Lillard, aka “Dame Dolla,” is featured on the soundtrack along with an original song by singer/songwriter Goapele, who attended Skyline High School and Oakland School for the Arts (OSA). The soundtrack includes additional vocals by current OSA students. 2004 Oakland High School graduate Gaby Arvizu is the film’s associate producer.
Tickets are now on sale for the Sundance premiere, airing at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 29, and for the all-day second screening on Sunday, January 31. You can purchase tickets at the Sundance website here. Select “Single Film Ticket,” then “Select a Screening,” then look for “Homeroom” on January 29 or January 31, and choose your preferred screening date and time. You must create an account in order to purchase tickets. After viewing the film, you will have the opportunity to vote on it for a Sundance Audience Award. If you can’t catch Homeroom at Sundance, it will also be shown at the San Francisco Film Festival in April.
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