Filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail) spent a year inside suburban Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School, exploring the grapple with decades-long racial and educational inequities.
America to Me follows students, teachers and administrators at one of the country’s highest performing and diverse public schools, digging into many of the stereotypes and challenges that today’s teenagers face, and looking at what has succeeded and failed in the quest to achieve racial equality in our educational system.
The 10-part series also serves as the launch of a social impact campaign focusing on the issues highlighted in each episode. Starz partnered with series producer Participant Media to encourage candid conversations about racism through a downloadable Community Conversation Toolkit and elevate student voices through a national spoken-word poetry contest.
Alongside the release of each new episode, the campaign will also host a high-profile screening event in one city across the country. Over the course of 10 weeks, these 10 events will seed a national dialogue anchored by the series, and kick off activities across the country to inspire students, teachers, parents and community leaders to develop local initiatives that address inequities in their own communities, says Starz.
James directed and executive produced the series, along with executive producers Gordon Quinn (The Trials of Muhammad Ali), Betsy Steinberg (Edith+Eddie) and Justine Nagan (Minding the Gap) at his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films.
Executive producers at Participant Media include Jeff Skoll (Lincoln) and Diane Weyermann (An Inconvenient Truth).
Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Rebecca Parrish (Radical Grace) and Kevin Shaw (The Street Stops Here) served as segment directors. John Condne (Love. Blood. Kryptonite.) served as the series producer, along with Risé Sanders-Weir (Chicago Stories). Film editors were Leslie Simmer (Raising Bertie) and David E. Simpson (Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise).
America to Me made its world premiere with the first five episodes at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and it will debut on Starz August 26 at 9 p.m.