Kicking off day one of the True/False Film Fest, the film “Homeroom”, directed by Peter Nicks, focuses on the lives of several seniors at Oakland High School in California. The film depicts several realities communities are facing today, along with conversation about racism and policing.
Several of these students are a part of a student organization who meet with the Oakland Unified School District board. The students want to get rid of the police at the school, and mention that Oakland High is the only school within the district with police on campus. In the beginning of the film, the school board is not willing to cut police out of the school budget. This changes after police kill several Black men and women, which incites the Black Lives Matter Movement to stand up against police brutality. The students organize several protests and marches to fight for Black and Brown communities.
The film follows students for the 2019-20 school year. There is no introduction as to who these students are, it is up to the audience to learn about them and their values as the film progresses. Cinematographer Sean Havey takes the audience through their lives as if the audience is a friend, but the students never acknowledge the camera. Havey immerses the viewer into the thick of the protests, and the stresses of senior year, which creates the illusion that spectators are students at Oakland High.
While watching the 2019 school year, the audience sees the highs and lows of being a senior. Students go to homecoming, take SATs and apply to college. As the news of George Floyd’s death is spread, the students realize they have to act. The students’ mission throughout the film is to be a voice for the community. They decide the best way to do that is to get involved and fight for their community. As the students march and protest, Havey makes it feel as though the audience is right beside them. In the end, the Oakland Unified School District votes to eliminate police at Oakland High.
Following the film, a handful of the students answered questions about their life today. Two students are in college, while one is still at Oakland High. The students who are in college say they want to return to Oakland to continue their journey in activism.
The next screening of “Homeroom” is May 6 at 8:30 p.m.