Combustible Celluloid
With: Denilson Garibo, Libby Schaaf
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Peter Nicks
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 08/13/2021

Homeroom (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

School Gaze

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Peter Nicks directed this eye-opening documentary in the same vérité vain as his previous works, The Waiting Room (2013) and The Force (2017). Unlike those two, this one was nearly derailed, twice, first by the death of Nicks's teen daughter Karina, and then, months later, by COVID-19. It was meant to follow a group of seniors, the graduating class of 2020, through their final year at Oakland High School. The focus was going to be on teen mental health, but after COVID, the focus instead became Denilson Garibo, a student member of the School Board, who continues to fight to have police removed from the school. (The board meetings are outrageous free-for-alls, which tend to devolve into shouting and rage.) There's no way to know what the original film might have been like, but this one — tying uniquely into the other events of 2020 such as the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter marches, and the "defund the police" movement — uncovers the unending well of resilience and strength that today's teens actually have. Homeroom will play in some theaters and is also streaming on Hulu.

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