Freedom Writers, 2007

Erin Gruwell is the new teacher of a class of kids who are full of hate and distrust. They’ve grown up with people looking at their race and not their face. She has to show these kids who have taken sides against each other that they have more in common than they think. So she plays a line game where they have to step on the line of tape in the middle of the room if they have experienced specific things like having been shot at or having been to jail or juvie.

Patrick Dempsey plays a relatively small role as husband and additional conflict for Ms Gruwell. His part of the film shows how some people want to persevere and others allow disappointment to overwhelm them.

The department head, Imelda Staunton played by Margaret Campbell, tries to explain to Ms Gruwell that she should give up trying to make students want an education. However, that’s not the kind of teacher Ms Gruwell wants to be. She has a passion to help these kids, and she’ll do whatever it takes.

The kids visit a Holocaust museum and then meet Holocaust survivors at the hotel dinner afterward. According to the cast list on, four real Holocaust survivors played themselves in the film.

I thought this movie did a good job of making an emotional plea for people to take a second look at their own situation and do the right thing. It showed people rising up to meet challenges instead of living in revenge and hatred.