November 08, 2019

This event occurred as part of the 19/20 Hop Film season. This is an archived view.

A star student tests the limits of his teacher (Octavia Spencer) in this provocative psychological drama about trust, privilege and the dangers of labeling people.


It's been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea, and they thought the worst was behind them. Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) has become an all-star student beloved by his community in Arlington, Virginia. His teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer) believes he is a symbol of black excellence who sets a positive example for his peers. But when he is assigned to write an essay in the voice of a historical twentieth-century figure, Luce turns in a paper that makes an alarming statement about political violence. Worried about how this assignment reflects upon her star pupil, Harriet searches his locker and finds something that confirms her worst fears.

But how much has Ms. Wilson allowed her expectations of Luce to influence her actions—and is her behavior emblematic of hypocrisy surrounding race and success in the United States? Based on a play and shot on 35mm, this Sundance hit is both cinematic and theatrical, skillfully probing the underbelly of the American Dream to emit the unseemly elements seething beneath its surface. D: Julius Onah, US, 2019

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“Harrison, who has to embody the incongruities of Luce’s code switching and possible masterminding, is the breakout of a uniformly excellent cast.”

New York Times
If Beale Street Could Talk

This series highlights films that use the medium to broaden and deepen perspective on issues like poverty, racism, immigration, gender inequality and climate change. We know film is an extremely...

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