Documentary Update

Cam Silha, Staffer


The issue of racial equality in America is one of the most difficult topics to discuss, as it is a hotbed of controversy. That is why, at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, Steve James, director of documentaries such as “Hoop Dreams” and “The Interrupters,” came to OPRF, along with a crew of cameras and sound technicians.

OPRF has a reputation as a very progressive school. Principal Raus works every day maintain the good image that our school holds. The documentary is focusing on Oak Park to see what racial relations are like between the young adults at OPRF.

In coordination with John Codne, OPRF’s film teacher, James and his team weaved into the halls as they began their mission. At first, the cameras held a constant audience. A cloud of students often followed the cameraman, trying to squeeze their faces into the frame. But over time, the cameras ceased to be a spectacle, no longer drawing attention from the students whom they filmed.

The goal of the documentary was to observe how race plays into the social and classroom interactions between students and teachers.

For nine months, the cameras were always present. In the Welcome Center, at Huskie football games, and in the hallways, the cameras were dutifully collecting footage, with the intent to provide a window into student life.

Despite the fact that the cameras aren’t present at the school during the 2016-17 school year, they are, in fact, still filming.

Brendan Barrette, one of the students focused on in the 2015-16 school year, was part of the documentary because of his role as an athlete at OPRF. “They wanted to follow me because although I’m an athlete, I don’t think that makes me a one sided person,” Brendan commented.

The cameras followed students outside of school as well, focusing on extracurricular activities and sports. “One thing they captured,” Brendan explains, “was my interest in photography and filmmaking.”