The 2010 documentary The Lottery explores the troubling public education system in the United States by looking at the “lotto system” that gives only some the right of “good” free education. Director Madeline Sacklier documents the lives of four families through the months leading up to bid night for a spot in a charter school. Knowing that the education system at their local schools are poor, four parents/guardians try their luck in the lotto system with hopes of a good outcome.
Each family explains why they want their child to attend the charter school, Harlem Academy, and what the overall outcome would be with their child’s future. Sackiler also obtained interviews from council people, school board members and other individuals to question the state of the education system in the U.S and their thoughts on charter schools, as some individuals oppose it as a resolution for education reform. . Overall it gives insight to the education reform movement in the states, but focuses on Harlem(as the families are from Harlem or the Bronx and are trying to get into a Harlem charter school).
The documentary used the children and the parents as the main narrators of the documentary, along with interviews from experts. Using them as main subjects personalized the subject more because viewers were confronted with four families in different situations rather than listening to statistics of hundreds of kids which could have overwhelmed the story matter. Other techniques utilized include interesting vantage point and shots that kept the viewer constantly interested and graphic text to describe statistics and facts.
The film was produced by Great Curve Films and distributed by Variance Films and Gravitas Ventures. Blink Entertainment focused on the marketing and promotion of the documentary.
The film was released in select theaters and several film festivals and later became available through Hulu and Netflix. The documentary has a website where viewers can receive more information about the film, the U.S. education system and information on arranging screenings.
In my opinion the film had a great impact, even if it was overshadowed by “Waiting For Superman”. Both films greatly expressed the issue of “luck” and “chance” being the only means for an adequate free form of education. I know after I watched the film I was both disgusted and frustrated that so much of the youth However one thing I don’t remember about the film is what it told the viewer they could do to create a change to this. It’s important for a documentary about social issue to emphasize to the viewer what they can do.