Freedom Writers

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Freedom Writers

FREEDOM WRITERS - 2nd March 2007 (Cert 12A) (Paramount) Starring: Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey, Mario Directed By: Richard LaGravenese Freedom Writers is inspired by real teenagers and the diaries that they wrote after the LA riots. Two-time Academy Award®-winner Hilary Swank stars as Erin Gruwell, whose passion to become a teacher is soon challenged by a group of Black, Latino and Asian gang members who hate her even more than each other. When Erin begins to listen to them, she begins to understand that for these kids, getting through the day alive is enough – they are not delinquents but teenagers fighting ‘a war on the streets’ that began long before they were born. Erin gives them something they never had from a teacher before – respect. For the first time, these teens experience a hope that maybe they might show the world that their lives matter and they have something to say... ©Film Education 2007 and Copyright ©2006 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


Freedom Writers

These study notes are aimed at teachers of English, Media and Film at Key Stages 3, 4, AS/A2 Level, BTEC. Teachers of Citizenship, General Studies, History and Politics will also find them useful. Through using these study notes with their students, teachers will be able to address issues of: - representation - genre - marketing - heroism - film language - scriptwriting and storyboarding - diary writing - drama/voice-over work - moral responsibility - diversity - the Holocaust The notes are designed to be prompters for discussion or practical written work, and they can be used before or after seeing the film.
©Film Education 2007 and Copyright ©2006 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers has an unusual mix of cast members. It combines unknown actors with recognisable stars (Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey) and real holocaust survivors. Discussion question: ● Consider the reasons why these different groups have been used. ● What difference does this make to your expectations of the film? The film contains some interesting representations of teenagers; ethnic groups (within the class) and teachers.

Discussion question: ● Once you have seen the film, discuss how these representations of different cultural groups are challenging or stereotypical.
©Film Education 2007 and Copyright ©2006 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers is part of a sub genre of classroom/transformation films, (and or representations of teenagers). Bearing this in mind, you may wish to consider comparisons with other films (e.g. Dead Poet’s Society (Weir: 1989), Dangerous Minds (Smith: 1995), Donnie Darko (Kelly: 2001) and Coach Carter (Carter: 2005)) and compare and contrast aspects of the narrative, such as class, ethnicity, concerns of teenage identity. Discussion questions: ● Which elements of Freedom Writers did you find most interesting or significant? ● What does this film have in common with other similar films? ● What is different about Freedom Writers? Genre is often used as a selling point for a film. In groups, think carefully about the film as a whole. Discussion questions: ● What would you say is the ‘Unique Selling Point’ of the film? ● Do you all agree?

Most cinemagoers find out about future titles through the film’s trailer, or its poster. Poster Activity: Imagine that you are involved in the marketing of the film to a UK audience; part of your job is to develop a poster campaign. What images or aspects of the film would you like to use to reach your audience? Once you have decided on the images, think about taglines: what message do you want to get across? Where would you like to showcase...
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