“Wanting to be an astronaut seemed as far as the moon.” Amidst the multitude of ideas and educational philosophies present in director/producer Madeleine Sackler’s documentary The Lottery, this sentiment from public charter school parent Karl Willingham best encapsulates the film’s heart. Even in the face of the unacceptable facts upon which its foundation is built (i.e. Nationally, 58% of African-American 4th graders are functionally illiterate), Mr. Willingham’s reflections on his own lack of educational opportunities reverberates the failures of many American public school systems in a way that facts and percentages could only dream of.
Emotionally charged, painfully poignant, and convincing throughout, Sackler’s documentary garnered recognition from the festival circuit (it was an Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival) but received only limited theatrical release in May of this year. With any luck, the film will enjoy greater exposure via its DVD release as the heartbreaking journeys on display here document an injustice that is every bit as devastating to the United States as far more discussed issues such as the economy, health care, illegal immigration, and/or the number of mosques located within the general vicinity of Ground Zero. Hit the jump for my review of The Lottery DVD.