America to Me
A 10-part series by Steve JamesWitness it through their eyes
A 10-part series by Steve James
60 minute episodes
Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s (OPRF) student population encompasses a racial, economic and cultural mix that reflects the nation as a whole. Located in a mostly affluent, progressive suburb, the school attracts families of all races and means, many of whom make great sacrifices to secure their children a place there. But even in this diverse and liberal community, ensuring an educational experience that equally benefits all students poses challenges for the school’s dedicated and well-meaning teachers, administrators and parents.
In the multipart unscripted documentary series “America to Me,” Academy Award- nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) and his team follow a diverse selection of the school’s 3,400 students, including artists, athletes, scholars, underachievers and iconoclasts, to present an indelible account of their dreams, fears, triumphs and aspirations.
Posing complex and controversial questions, the film wrestles with crucial issues, including the effects of race and privilege on education as seen through the eyes of young Americans on the precipice of adulthood. Candid and relatable portraits of 12 students who are just beginning to come into their own provide moving insights into the teenage search for personal identity in today’s world.
1 Year Streaming License for Full Series via Film Platform - This licenses gives your entire campus/location access to all 10 episodes for 1 year. This license is suitable for classroom or individual use. This license does not include the public performance rights and may not be used for screenings. To host a screening, please see information below.
3 Year Streaming License for Full Series via Film Platform - This licenses gives your entire campus/location access to all 10 episodes for 3 years. This license is suitable for classroom or individual use. This license does not include the public performance rights and may not be used for screenings. To host a screening, please see information below.
Public Performance Rights - This license allows for an unlimited number of screenings of the selected episode on your campus or at your location. This license also covers classroom use for the selected episode. DVDs are available upon request. Please contact Dana@rocofilms.com for more information.
Episode 1- What’s the Big Deal About Oak Park?
The school year begins at OPRF for freshman Grant, sophomore Tiara, and juniors Charles, Terrence and Ke’Shawn. Controversy over a Black Lives Matter assembly still reverberates as the school confronts years of racial inequities.
Episode 2 - Stranger in a Room
Teacher Jess Stovall intervenes in Ke’Shawn’s academic struggles. His mother shares her own troubled history at OPRF. Senior Kendale and junior Chanti grapple with identity. Homecoming Dance is very special for Grant.
Episode 3 - There Is No Pain That Compares to the Struggle Sunday
Kendale wrestles to become a starter, while Chanti wrestles with emotional trauma. Jess Stovall takes on the principal, and senior Jada takes on a teacher. OPRF’s football team has a big game and a score to settle with an archrival.
Episode 4 - There’s Nothing Funny About Race!
Jada’s conflict with a teacher grows more intense. Ke’Shawn’s run-in threatens his grade. Grant pursues first love. Terrence loves Halloween much more than school. Charles and Chanti audition at intense tryouts for the poetry slam team.
Episode 5 - I Don’t Have to Think About Being White
White students Caroline and Brendan join the story. Jada’s film draws mixed reviews. Terrence’s grade hangs in the balance. Christmas lights up Kendale’s home, while Ke’Shawn’s family may lose theirs. Chaos reigns at an OPRF basketball game.
Episode 6 - Listen to the Poem!
Spring semester brings fresh challenges. Jada clashes with junior Diane over her new film. Brendan recalls a racially charged basketball past. Tiara and the cheerleading squad go for the gold. Charles’ poetry slam team faces an epic challenge.
Episode 7 - Tsunami of Privilege
Jess Stovall gives her all to engage Ke’Shawn, whose situation has turned dire. Kendale fights to advance in the playoffs, while star teammate Gabe faces unexpected challenges. Terrence rebounds with his mother’s help. Anger erupts over a new swimming pool.
Episode 8 - Nobody Can Hold You Down
Chanti discovers a devastating truth about her grandparents. Brendan’s parents make him an offer he can’t refuse. Caroline’s anxiety exacts a heavy toll. Kendale and his team pursue their dream for the ultimate victory.
Episode 9 - The Invisible T-Shirt
Kendale goes on a college visit, while Terrence goes to court. Tiara and her mother fall out over grades. Jess Stovall pushes the administration to adopt her teacher support program. Prom arrives and Kendale’s mother loves it.
Episode 10 - America Will Be
It’s now or never for Tiara in chemistry. Chanti boxes, and Ke’Shawn pulls no punches. Terrence looks to the future. Diane tries to overcome the past. Caroline wrestles with perfection, while OPRF grapples with imperfect leadership. Kendale, Jada and Gabe celebrate graduation.