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Freedom Writers (2007)

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A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.


(screenplay), (book) | 1 more credit »
2,423 ( 10)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eva Benitez (as April Lee Hernandez)
Jaclyn Ngan ...
Sergio Montalvo ...
Jason Finn ...
Ben Daniels
Antonio García ...


It's 1994 in Long Beach, California. Idealistic Erin Gruwell is just starting her first teaching job, that as freshman and sophomore English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Despite choosing the school on purpose because of its integration program, Erin is unprepared for the nature of her classroom, whose students live by generations of strict moral codes of protecting their own at all cost. Many are in gangs and almost all know somebody that has been killed by gang violence. The Latinos hate the Cambodians who hate the blacks and so on. The only person the students hate more is Ms. Gruwell. It isn't until Erin holds an unsanctioned discussion about a recent drive-by shooting death that she fully begins to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Their story. Their world. Their future. See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent content, some thematic material and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

5 January 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Écrire pour exister  »

Box Office


$21,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,405,582 (USA) (5 January 2007)


$36,581,633 (USA) (9 March 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Hilary Swank beat out her co-star in this movie, Imelda Staunton, for the 2005 Oscar for Best Actress. See more »


Ms. Gruwell makes a reference to "Snoop Dogg" in the movie, but during the timeline of this story, he was still known as Snoop Doggy Dogg. See more »


Brandy: Nobody ever listens to a teenager. Everybody thinks you should be happy just because you're young. They don't see the wars that we fight every single day. And one day, my war will end. And I won't die. And I will not tolerate abuse from anyone. I am strong.
See more »


Referenced in Studio C: Episode #2.10 (2013) See more »


It's R Time
by Jeannie Ortega (as Jeanette Ortega), Victor Santiago, Kevin Ravenell, Edwin Almonte,
Rolphy Ramirez & Leonardo Vasquez
Performed by Jeannie Ortega (as Jeanette Ortega) featuring Gemstar and Big Mato
Courtesy of Hollywood Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Fine By Me
5 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I walked into the movie theater with the ticket in my hand thinking about how many other movies I have seen like the one I am about to watch. "Remember the Titans", "Stand and Deliver", "Dangerous Minds", and the list goes on and on. And so I sat in my comfy chair that rocks back and forth so my back doesn't get stiff. Of course, my theater has stadium seating so someone's big head doesn't get in the way of my movie experience. And of course, I had to sit in the row with the railing in front of it so I could put my feet up, because I wasn't going to be uncomfortable while I play critic for this movie...what are you, crazy? Then, the movie began. and it ran and I was quiet. I laughed a little and cried a little, but not for one second was I criticizing. As I saw the characters go through their horribly troubled lives and while I was reminded of little Anne Frank, I became somewhat guilty about silently complaining that I got the squeaky seat or that my friend ate all the popcorn five minutes into the movie.

Likewise, when the movie was over, I had nothing negative to say. It wasn't that I was biting my tongue, it was that I wasn't paying attention to the mistakes of the movie (wherever they were) because I was so engrossed in the plot...you know, the one I said had been done before. the movie made me realize that gang violence and racial intolerance are just as big issues today as EVER. And I decided that as long as people are isolated because of their race and as long as people innocently die in the midst of a gang war, it's okay for this plot to live on...it gives hope to those who go to bed with one eye open, and who go to school everyday wondering if they'll live to see their own graduation.

And for me? For someone like me who complains about hastily eaten popcorn? It makes me count my blessings just a LITTLE bit more frequently. And any movie with a tired, overdone plot that can do that...well, it's fine by me.

126 of 157 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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