Pare Lorentz Fund Grantee

Circles

Director:
Cassidy Friedman
Producers:
Ines Hofmann Kanna

A former football star and refugee of Hurricane Katrina shakes up a troubled West Oakland high school with his edgy and unorthodox approach to keeping Black and Latino kids in school. His strategies polarize staff while winning trust from students and the principal.Shot over the course of two years during Ralph Bunche Continuation School’s ascent into national prominence, this documentary follows Eric Butler, a pioneer of the Restorative Justice movement. This movement has given rise to a new effort to combat racial discrimination in schools by addressing trauma that often leads to misbehavior and delinquency. Replacing suspensions and expulsions with candid mentoring and conflict mediation circles, Eric coaches failing students to graduate before they get killed or swallowed by the criminal justice system.But Eric, who is struggling to raise his teenage son, Tre, in a neighborhood dominated by gangs and drug dealers, finds his strategies tested when Tre eschews his father’s guidance.