Paramount Pictures will finance and distribute “Freedom Writers,” a Richard LaGravenese-directed drama starring Hilary Swank. The film is based on “The Freedom Writer’s Diaries: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” written by high school teacher Erin Gruwell and her students. Gruwell was a 23-year-old teacher assigned to a class of kids deemed unteachable and at risk. When she recovered a note bearing a racial caricature, she told the students this was the kind of propaganda the Nazis used during the Holocaust. None of her students knew what the Holocaust was. By using the writings of Anne Frank and “Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo,” Gruwell was able to teach the kids tolerance. Both teacher and class toured Amsterdam and Sarajevo, and each of Gruwell’s students graduated high school. Most are attending or have graduated from college with Gruwell paying the tuitions of many of them.
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