Historical Documentaries in the Upper School

Students watched and critiqued a variety of important historical documentaries to help identify the qualities of an exceptional film before producing their own. The interdisciplinary course provided students opportunities to learn and sharpen key historical skills, including writing, research and storytelling techniques. Students also gained experience with professional-level pre-production, cinematography, lighting, interview techniques, video editing, motion graphics and audio.

Seniors explored a wide array of topics, including the trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the history of racial inequity at Cook County Hospital, gentrification in the Pilsen neighborhood, the history of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and reform of the Chicago Police Department after the Laquan McDonald shooting.

One of the most exciting and engaging aspects of the course was that students acquired an impressive array of interviews with experts, witnesses and historical actors, including Christy Lopez, former deputy chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division; Dan Shomon, President Obama’s campaign manager; the founders of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union; the head of communications for the Chicago Police Department; Pilsen-based artists and muralists including Marcos Raya; Patti Blagojevich; and, from prison, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Travis Chandler noted, “The course was truly exciting, and we like to think that the remarkable films made by these second-semester seniors are a fitting capstone to their progressive educational experience at Parker.”

Enjoy the student films below.

Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.