Oscilloscope Laboratories will be releasing documentary filmmaker Andrew Cohn’s Night School theatrically on June 9 (for the a limited run) … the film opened on the film festival circuit at the Tribeca Film Festival in April of 2016 and worked throughout the balance of last year and into this year.
The critics have raved about the film and its life-changing story and the awards have piled up along the way, including the Jury Prize at the Bend Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at Heartland and more. On Aug. 8 the cycle will be complete with the DVD debut.
Andrew Cohn could have picked any big city public school system, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, you name it the pattern is the same, but he zeroed on Indianapolis and three courageous black high school dropouts who have learned the hard lessons of the real world and now look to complete their basic high school education against long odds. Cohn spent a full year tracking their progress.
His subjects are Greg Henson, who saw easy money in dealing drugs, but now has to raise a daughter and has the remnants of a criminal record that hangs like a dead weight around his neck; Shynika Jakes, who dreamed of becoming a medical professional, but instead finds herself working in fast food … and lastly, we have Melissa Lewis, a 50-something mother and grandmother who survives the day to day with menial jobs.
Without an education there is no future. They’ve learned this the hard way.
All three of Cohn’s subjects are black. Their only advantage is that they speak English … can you imagine three limited-English speakers in the same boat? No education, no skills and limited English, where is the future?
All three have returned to adult school — night school — in an effort to expand their horizons. Is it a false dream? An illusion? Maybe, but for Greg, Shynika and Melissa they know that without the effort there will be no change.
Night School is a riveting film that can easily be regarded as a dramatic feature film … we have empathic characters and a story arc that demands and holds our attention. Bonus features include commentary from Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Cohn, who is joined by cinematographer Zachary Shields.