At-Risk-Youth on Film

Check out some of our favorite At-Risk-Youth Films

Click on the title to see the film’s trailer if  available.

Pariah (2011)
SYNOPSIS: A rousing success at its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, this deeply felt human drama is the feature debut of writer/director Dee Rees. Adepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced “ah-lee-kay”), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. A gifted student, Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the support of her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), she is especially eager to find a girlfriend. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity.

The Education of Sonny Carson (1974)

SYNOPSIS: The Education of Sonny Carson is a 1974 film based on the best-selling autobiography of Sonny Carson, who joined a gang and committed petty crime before being sent to prison. After his release from prison, he changes his life, also prompted by his girlfriend’s addiction to heroin. Summary by Wikipedia

Lean On Me (1989)

SYNOPSIS: Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Morgan Freeman. Lean on Me is loosely based on the story of Joe Louis Clark, a real life inner city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey, whose school is at risk of being taken over by the New Jersey state government unless students improve their test scores. This film’s title refers to the 1972 Bill Withers song of the same name. Summary by Wikipedia

Boys N the Hood (1991)

SYNOPSIS: Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American crime drama film written and directed by John Singleton. Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Angela Bassett and Regina King, the film depicts life in poor South Central (now South) Los Angeles, California.

Boyz n the Hood was filmed and released in the summer of 1991. It was nominated for both Best Director and Original Screenplayduring the 1991 Academy Awards, making Singleton the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director and the first African–American to be nominated for the award. Summary by Wikipedia

WOLF (2012)

SYNOPSIS: WOLF is the feature film debut from award winning writer/director Ya’Ke Smith. It tells the story of a family that is shaken to the core when they discover that their son has been molested.

Finding Forrester (2000)

SYNOPSIS: Finding Forrester is a 2000 American drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. A black American teenager, Jamal Wallace(Rob Brown), is invited into a prestigious private high school. By chance, Jamal befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Sean Connery), through whom he refines his natural talent for writing and comes to terms with his identity. Summary by Wikipedia

Mysterious Skin (2004)

SYNOPSIS: Mysterious Skin is a 2004 drama film directed by American filmmaker Gregg Araki, who also wrote the screenplay based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Scott Heim. The film is Araki’s eighth, premiering at the Venice Film Festival in 2004, although it was not more widely distributed until 2005.

Mysterious Skin tells the story of two pre-adolescent boys who are sexually abused by their baseball coach, and how it affects their lives in different ways into their young adulthood. One boy becomes a reckless, sexually adventurous male prostitute, while the other retreats into a fantasy of alien abduction.

River Washes Over Me (2010)

SYNOPSIS: The film touches on race relations, incest, drugs, and growing up gay in the American South. A recent New York City transplant, Sequan Greene (Derrick L. Middleton) has been sent to live in Alabama after the recent death of his mother. He is brutally raped by his cousin Michael Wilis (Cameron Mitchell Mason). It becomes clear that Michael also is gay – a victim as well as a victimizer. He says, “I can’t be a faggot …You’re the faggot. You’re my faggot.” Sequan is also bullied and beaten up at school.

Sequan soon finds a friend in Lori Anderson (Elizabeth Dennis), the girlfriend of drug dealer/basketball player Ahmed Robins (Duane McLaughlin). Lori is thetown’s “bad girl” who has a heart of gold. Although she freebases, snorts coke throughout the school day, steal guns and sleeps with the town basketball star, she is immediately taken by admiration of Sequan and his brazen nonconformity. Despite Sequan’s unwillingness, Lori manages to befriend him, bringing him out of his shell and eventually introducing him to both moonshine and her gay brother, Jake (Aidan Schultz-Meyer).

Freedom Writers (2007)

SYNOPSIS: Freedom Writers is a 2007 American drama film starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey.

It is based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary by teacher Erin Gruwell who wrote the story based on Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, California. The title is a play on the term “Freedom Riders”, referring to the multiracial civil rights activists who tested the U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of interstate buses in 1961.

The idea for the film came from journalist Tracey Durning, who made a documentary about Erin Gruwell for the ABC News program Primetime Live. Durning served as co-executive producer of the film. Summary by Wikipedia

Take The Lead (2006)

SYNOPSIS: Take the Lead is a 2006 musical drama film starring Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown and Alfre Woodard. The film was released in mainstream cinema on April 7, 2006. The movie is based on the life of Pierre Dulaine, a well-known ballroom dancer and a dance instructor, known for ‘Dancing Classrooms’. Summary by Wikipedia

Other Notable “At-Risk-Youth” Film Titles click on the title to see the film’s trailer.

187 (1997)

Animal Drill (2010)

Billy Elliot (2000)

BluePrint (2007)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Change the movie (2011)

Coach Carter (2005)

Cooley High (1975)

Cornbread, Earl & Me (1975)

Dangerous Minds (1995)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

The Emperors Club (2002)

Englewood: Growing Pains In Chicago (2012)

Ethan Mao (2004)

Fast Times At Richmond High (1982)

Glory Road (2006)

The Great Debaters (2007)

Grid Iron Gang (2006)

Gun Hill Road (2011)

Hard Lessons: The George McKenna Story (1986)

Hoop Dreams (1994)

History Boys (2006)

The Interrupters (2011)

Juice (1992)

Leave It on the floor (2011)

Light It Up (1999)

Man Without A Face (1993)

Menace II Society (1993)

Money Matters (2011)

Mosquita y Mari (2012)

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Paris Is Burning (1992)

Precious (2009)

Pride (2007)

Remember The Titans (2000)

Save the Last Dance (2001)

Scared Straight! (1978)

Sister Act 2 (1993)

Stand & Deliver (1988)

Step Up (2006)

Tom Boy (2011)

The Wanders (1979)

Welcome Home Bobby (1986)

Woke Up Black (2011)

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