Monday, September 6, 2010

Home Video with Abe: The Lottery

The Lottery
Directed by Madeleine Sackler
Released May 7, 2010

2010 has been a strong year for documentaries. Arriving on DVD last week is “The Lottery,” a documentary about the charter school lottery system that originally opened in theatres back in May on the same day as “Casino Jack and the United States of Money.” This film tackles a subject extremely similar to that of “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary opening later this month whose trailer is being shown on many screens before current films right now. “The Lottery” selects as its focus Harlem and picks a small group of children to follow through the process of deciding to enter the lottery and eagerly awaiting the results. What ensues is a dramatic and poignant exploration of why the system works the way it does and a spotlight on those who could (but don’t necessarily) benefit from the opportunity this lottery offers.

As documentaries go, this is pretty by-the-book. It’s an exposé tackling both the problems that exist that caused a lottery system like this to be created and the issues of the lottery system itself. The background research is extensive and the presentation is highly educational, introducing students and their families along the way in order to fill in holes about the details of the lottery and the charter school system. Footage from public space hearings and interviews with potential lottery benefactors are interspersed to weave a compelling narrative that sheds light on the entire situation. It’s a moving and inspiring documentary that’s equally hopeful and depressing, and is an important film for anyone with a vested interest in education. Check out the trailer above for a preview. “The Lottery” is now available on DVD.


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