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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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A documentary about three students determined to graduate from their high school in Indianapolis, despite the fact that the institution has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country.

Review by Louise Keller:
'If you want something you have never had, you have to do something you have never done,' says one of the three high school dropouts, whose journey this inspiring documentary follows. Andrew Cohn's film explores the lives, thoughts and challenges facing three African American students, who display courage and persistence as they fight against the odds to achieve their dream.

We become involved in the lives of each of the three students. Greg is a thirty something former drug dealer and single parent of a 4 year girl with medical challenges. He does not want a job; he needs a career, he says as he shares his fears and wonders aloud how he can put his life together. At 26, Shynika is intent on becoming a nurse and earn enough money to allow her to live in her own place - instead of sleeping in her car and spending uncertain nights with friends. It is 37 years since high school for 53 year old Melissa, who had her first child aged 14 and knows she cannot turn back time. Emotional and often sad when alone, her journey is a steep one. Algebra is her Achilles heel. Her wide smile - missing teeth and all - is hugely compelling.

Cohn connects us with the students: we feel we know them and have an understanding of their conflicts and innermost fears. We are there when things go right - and also when they go wrong. We become involved in the relationships: with Greg and his daughter and that with the brother who has chosen the wrong road and suffers the consequences. We watch Shynika speak her mind at a demonstration, standing up for rights. And we angst along with Melissa, as she struggles with the often unfathomable algebra. Counselors also provide an insight into the school and what the students need to graduate.

We are there as the countdown to the exams and the graduation begins. Results are out and I guarantee there will not be a single dry eye as the final scenes of the documentary play out. Greg's speech is especially moving ('Take charge and be part of the change we all want,') but it is Melissa's journey that is the most affecting.

Be inspired. Do something you have never done to achieve your dream. Watch this involving doco and take the first step.

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(US, 2017)

CAST: Documentary with Greg Henson, Shynika Jakes, Melissa Lewis

PRODUCER: Steve Bannatyne, Andrew Cohn, Jason Orans, Pamela Ryan, Zachary Shields

DIRECTOR: Andrew Cohn

SCRIPT: Andrew Cohn


EDITOR: Thomas Niles

MUSIC: Adam Rubenstein

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes



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