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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 »
2,668 ( 68)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Eva Benitez (as April Lee Hernandez)
Sergio Montalvo ...
Jason Finn ...
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


our story. our words. 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 USA:

$9,405,582, 7 January 2007

Gross USA:

$36,605,602, 15 March 2007

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is featured in the film. Gruwell takes the students on a field trip to the museum. An exterior view of the museum is shown, and there are scenes inside the museum, showing simulated entrances to gas chambers in death camps. See more »


The movie is set in the early to mid 90's. At this time Starbucks Coffee had not yet introduced the "Way I See It" cup, and would not do so for at least 7 years, yet Mrs. G is seen holding one when entering the classroom and while drinking her coffee in a few shots See more »


Eva: White people wanting respect like they deserve it for free.
Erin Gruwell: I'm a teacher, it doesn't matter what color I am.
Eva: It's all about color, it's about people deciding what you deserve, about people wanting what they don't deserve. About whites thinking they own this world no matter what, you see, I hate white people.
Erin Gruwell: You hate me? You don't even know me.
Eva: I know what you can do. I saw white cops shoot my friend in the back for reaching into his pocket, his pocket! I saw white cops come into my house and ...
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Referenced in Bill Burr: Why Do I Do This? (2008) See more »


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User Reviews

Good Movie!!!
28 November 2006 | by See all my reviews

I saw this screening and I must say, it was actually a really good movie. Once again Hilary Swank did a terrific job as always! I know it's based on a true story but I'm pretty sure it must have been exaggerated a little. I've been to Long Beach and I know it's not that bad. But then again, this was back in the 90's so it could possibly be true. I also agree that Mario puts on a good performance. For a while, I forgot he was Mario. He really played his character Andre really well. The actors that played gangsters, dealers really looked like gangsters and dealers so that was good too see. Also, Hilary Swank looks a lot like the real Erin Gruwell so that was actually pretty cool. Overall, the movie is good. Definitely better than Dangerous Minds. My grade is an "A".

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