Heartland Film has teamed up with Butler University’s College of Communication to present director Andrew Cohn’s latest motion picture “Night School,” a documentary centered around the issues students in many low income communities must face in order to obtain a good-enough education to get them somewhere in life.
The film follows three adults, Greg, Melissa, and Shynika, who have to go back and retake high school at the Excel Center, an adult education school, and get their GED’s. Throughout their journey, they face numerous obstacles and challenges that many low income Americans must face on a daily basis in order to witness something that will change their lives forever: High school graduation.
A producer of the film, Zachary Shields, spoke about Andrew Cohn’s commitment to the film and why he wanted to make the film in the first place.
“He wanted to do something around education and he wasn’t quite sure what it was,” Shields said. But then when he heard about this school on PBS NewsHour, he thought that he could make a movie out of that because it was people that were in an interesting place in their lives, that were older, that didn’t make it through high school for whatever reason and they were made to go back later in life as adults to get their high school diplomas. And he thought that would be a really interesting scenario for a person to be in and thought it took a lot of courage for someone to go back to high school later in life to try and better themselves and finish their education so they can get jobs and make their lives better.”
Heartland Film Director of Film Programming and Marketing Greg Sorvig, explained why “Night School” is special and important in today’s society.
“People are creatures of habit, and don't often stray off the beaten path when it comes to daily schedules, meeting new people or experiencing different places or things,” Sorvig said, ‘Night School’ and similar documentaries act as intimate windows into real life and shatter the preconceived notions and generalizations we often use as placeholders for real world experience - experiences which we may never seek out or have in our lifetimes. Ultimately, we are all humans experiencing the same struggles at different levels, and "Night School" shifts your perspective and reminds you what our shared human spirit is capable of.”
The film covers issues that people face across the country. In fact, both Sorvig and Shields had the time to explain why this film is very special compared to others in its genre and why it’s important that people see it.
“It’s a story that challenges you to maybe set aside some of your preconceived notions about what people in that particular scenario are going through. And it’s a very intimate story; no matter how different you are from the people in the movie, you can relate to the struggles that they ‘ face because everybody faces the kind of struggles that they face at one point or another in their life,” Shields said.
“Director Andrew Cohn's approach to storytelling is real, relatable and engaging. The featured subjects of the film give us full access to experience their lives, dreams and challenges. Regardless of the perceived notions moviegoers have related to race, class and education, every moviegoer will identify with and be inspired by Greg, Melissa and Shynika,” Sorvig said.
The film was the winner of both the $45,000 Grand Prize for Best Documentary Feature and Audience Choice for Documentary Feature as the 2016 Heartland Film Festival. The previous occasion of a film winning the praise of both critics and audiences was when the Rwandan cycling documentary “Rising from Ashes” won both awards back in 2012.
“Night School” will be screened on Monday, February 20th at 7:00 PM at the Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University. For more information on the film and to buy tickets for the screening, please visit :http://heartlandfilm.org/events/night-school-screening-w-director-andrew-cohn/