Tribeca Film Festival Review: Night School

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Tribeca Film Festival Review: Night School
by Dominiga Martin

April 24, 2016

Night School 1

There’s a lot at stake for those who start off at the bottom, and by bottom I mean, a place where all the odds are stacked against you. Odds like: the system, education, and an environment that is built on survival; low income neighborhoods, where one is confronted with two paths: to make it or succumb to a statistical way of life—jail, death or being left behind.

The backdrop of this story is Indianapolis, “which has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country.”

It’s a vicious cycle of neighborhood neglect, a poor educational system and the challenges which underprivileged people face, which leads to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Night School 2

Director Andrew Cohn makes his Tribeca Debut with Night School, an endearing documentary film which takes viewers into the lives of 3 adult students, during the school year 2014 – 2015. Each student is trying their best to overcome their circumstances while earning their high school diploma. The cards of life are stacked against them as their compelling stories take us on a journey that is both heartfelt and triumphant.

The audience is introduced to Shynika, a young woman who’s couch surfing,and forced to live in less than desirable conditions because she does not make enough money to find a decent home. She is under the constraints of a boss who is insensitive to her plight to better herself, forcing her to make the ultimate decision to fight the system that holds her back.

Night School 3

Greg, a young man who has turned his life around and away from the streets, is a single dad, caring for his young daughter, while juggling the pull of the streets, the overpowering love he has for his daughter and the dream of one day having a clean record so that he can make a decent living.

And then there’s Melissa, a bright woman, of a certain age who is lonely, and hard on herself. Everyday she battles with giving up everything she’s worked hard for. We watch Melissa evolve into a self confident woman through trial and error.

Such an amazing film to experience for any student growing up in the inner city. Night School is inspiring and should be shown in schools across the nation, no matter your background, status or upbringing. It is an educational lesson for us all.

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