America to Me

  • Steve James
  • United States
  • 2018
  • 623
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Oak Park and River Forest High School just outside Chicago has a huge and highly diverse student population. This modern melting pot gives the impression that equal education equates with equal opportunities, but on closer inspection, the reality of everyday life for various minorities looks a lot less rosy. White middle-class students have a very different high school experience than their classmates with other cultural or economic backgrounds.

For an entire school year, this binge-worthy series follows 12 students with different lives, backgrounds and future dreams. We see them at sporting events, dances, and poetry competitions, and hear them speak candidly about their lives, friendships, prejudices, institutional racism, privilege, and their dreams of how things could—must—be improved. Passionately dedicated teachers and parents speak from their own perspective.

And that’s when dissonance starts to make itself felt, because while this suburb may have a reputation for being progressive, inequality remains an issue—and that includes for the younger generations. So although the parents hope for a better life for their kids, and despite the good intentions of everyone involved, these children all have extra hurdles to jump.

Credits

  • 623
  • color
  • DCP
Director
Steve James
Co-director
Bing Liu, Rebecca Parrish, Kevin Shaw
Production
John Condne, Risé Sanders-Weir for Kartemquin Films
Executive producer
Steve James for Kartemquin Films, Jeff Skoll for Participant Media, Diane Weyermann for Participant Media, Justine Nagan for Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn for Kartemquin Films, Betsy Steinberg for Kartemquin Films
Cinematography
Steve James, Bing Liu, Rebecca Parrish, Kevin Shaw
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IDFA history

2018
International Premiere

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IDFA history