Stories From an Undeclared War, a documentary about former Newport Beach resident Erin Gruwell and the at-risk students who came under her wing at Wilson High School in Long Beach, screens free at 6:30 this evening in the Friends Room at Newport Beach Public Library.
Directed by Dennis Rice, the empowering movie just screened last month at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
In fact, I wrote about it here:
As part of the library's yearlong "Searching for Democracy" initiative, the cultural resource is teaming with the film festival for the screening that includes a question and answer session with Gruwell, who compiled the bestselling Freedom Writers Diary that inspired the feature drama Freedom Writers.
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The book, Hollywood movie and independent documentary explore then-young teacher Gruwell being assigned to about 150 at-risk students from Long Beach believed to be "unteachable." After a rocky start, Gruwell connected with the youths by having them read the works of teen authors, including Anne Frank, who lived through war.
The documentary, which Gruwell told me is very close to her heart, includes student Darrius Garrett having an "a-ha" moment when he tells his teacher, "You know what, Ms. G? I feel like we came from an undeclared war zone."
Many of those supposedly at-risk students grew up to volunteer or work full-time with Gruwell's nonprofit, Long Beach-based Freedom Writers Foundation, which tours the country training teachers and students to connect with one another and the world around them through reading and writing.