For Ahkeem

As three teens move from juvenile court to an experimental educational program they're offered them a chance to get their lives on track.

School of last resort 01
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Director

Jeremy Levine

Jeremy Levine is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker who, with Landon Van Soest, directed, produced, shot, and edited Good Fortune, a feature documentary about how efforts to aid Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to serve. The film was awarded the Witness Award for Human Rights at its 2009 Silverdocs Film Festival premiere, Show more the 2010 Overseas Press Club Carl Spielvogel Award for international reporting, and a 2007 fellowship from the Sundance Institute. Good Fortune was broadcast on the award-winning PBS series, POV, and won a 2010 Emmy Award. The team’s first film, Walking the Line, a feature documentary about vigilantes along the U.S.-Mexico border, was screened in dozens of film festivals around the world, broadcast nationally in five countries, and recognized with several awards for production, reporting, and preserving human rights. Levine produced several segments for PBS NewsHour about an early college program in one of the worst high school districts in the country. Levine and Van Soest co-founded the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a non-profit organization that provides support to independent filmmakers in New York City. Show less

Director

Landon Van Soest

Landon Van Soest won an Emmy Award for co-directing, with Jeremy Levine, Good Fortune, a feature documentary about how efforts to aid Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to serve. The film was awarded the Witness Award for Human Rights at its 2009 Silverdocs Film Festival premiere, the 2010 Overseas Press Club Carl Spielvogel Award for Show more international reporting, a 2007 fellowship from the Sundance Institute, and was broadcast on the award-winning PBS series, POV. The team’s first film, Walking the Line, a feature documentary about vigilantes along the U.S.-Mexico border, was screened in dozens of film festivals around the world, broadcast nationally in five countries, and recognized with several awards for production, reporting, and preserving human rights. Van Soest and Levine have a special passion for telling stories that highlight innovative ideas in education. Van Soest spent two years directing a documentary about an experimental global education center in the Middle East. Levine and Van Soest co-founded the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a non-profit organization that provides support to independent filmmakers in New York City. Show less

Producer

Nick Weissman

Nicholas Weissman is a documentary filmmaker and contract producer for Time Inc. Studios. Since coming to New York in 2006 he has worked as a producer and cinematographer for numerous media outlets including Sony Pictures, National Geographic Channel, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, MSNBC, PBS, TNT, and The History Channel. His Show more first independent film, The Minutemen, produced by Weissman and directed by Corey Wascinski, won the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and both Best Documentary and Grand Jury Prize at the Brooklyn International Film Festival. Show less

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The Film

School of Last Resort three follows teenagers in St. Louis—one of the most dangerous cities in America—as they move from juvenile court to an experimental educational program that offers them one last chance to get their lives on track. Frustrated by the laws sending young people to his court in record numbers, Judge Jimmie Edwards saw an opportunity in a shuttered school across the street from the infamous Pruit Igo Housing Project where he spent his own childhood. Edwards petitioned the public school system and sought private backing to launch the Innovative Concept Academy (ICA) in 2010. Every one of the roughly 200 students enrolled at ICA at any given time has either been expelled from the public school system or adjudicated in court.

While ICA provides the setting and framework for the film, the narrative is built around the stories of its students. Over the course of the film, we watch their stories unfold through their experiences at the school, in their homes and neighborhoods, and through their interactions with the justice system. Utilizing voice-over from the students, the film will meditate on the systems and forces that support and stand in the way of graduation — from the public schools to the juvenile justice system, prisons, gangs, teen pregnancy, and the ghost-like neighborhood disappearing before their eyes. As such, School of Last Resort comprises a rare, unusually intimate portrait of life for teenagers facing the seemingly intractable cycles of crime and poverty. The film follows each of them at a critical juncture in their lives when, given the chance to transcend their circumstances, they are forced to choose what kind of people they are going to become.

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