Long Beach Teacher Changes Lives in New Documentary “Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart” Airs Mar. 28 on PBS SoCal


Allison Gray




Long Beach Teacher Changes Lives in New Documentary

“Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart”

Airs Mar. 28 on PBS SoCal


Idealistic Teacher Uses Literature to Teach the “Unteachable”


Burbank, Calif. – Feb. 27, 2019 – PBS SoCal announced today the premiere of “Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart​,” a documentary that follows a Southern Calif. teacher’s journey to change the lives of her students,transforming their literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The film will air on Thurs., Mar. 28 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal and be available for streaming following the broadcast at pbssocal.org/freedomwriters.

Directed and executive produced by Don Hahn (The Gamble House,Maleficent, The Lion King) and produced by Lori Korngiebel (The Finest Hours, John Carter), “Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart​” follows idealistic teacher Erin Gruwell as she tries to reach 150 at-risk students who were labeled “unteachable.” It’s 1994 and Long Beach, Calif. is a racially divided community filled with drugs, gang warfare and homicides. Inside the classroom, Gruwell encounters hostility, indifference and racial divisions between students. The struggle and strife on the streets has carried into the school halls.

Refusing to give up, Gruwell uses relevant literature and media to compare current reality in urban America to the worst examples throughout history of man’s inhumanity to one another. Her students are particularly inspired by the writings of Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic. They ultimately choose to put down their weapons and pick up a pen. The once-hardened teens discover a new way to express themselves in order to embrace history, humanity and hope. By sharing their stories, they rewrite their futures and become catalysts for change.

Several community screenings of the film will be held at various colleges throughout Southern Calif. as listed below (*subject to change).  For more information about the film and attending the screenings, please go to pbssocal.org/freedomwriters.

Join the conversation on social media using @PBSSoCal and #FreedomWritersPBS


PBS SoCal delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and entertain – over the air, online, in the community and in the classroom. We offer the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Independent Lens, a broad library of documentary films including works from Ken Burns; and educational PBS KIDS programs including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George. Our programs are accessible for free through four broadcast channels, and available for streaming at pbssocal.org, on the PBS mobile apps, and via connected TV services Android TV, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. PBS SoCal is a donor-supported community institution that is a part of Public Media Group of Southern California, the flagship PBS station for 19 million diverse people across California.