Category: Review

"Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary" is a documentary, shot in the year 1997. This movie is mainly about the problems, which are very well familiar to the film maker; Angelica Simon, who herself was a child of Mexican immigrant family, and now is a teacher at the school, which is in the focus of the film. Angelica realizes, that it was the US, that gave her the opportunities, she had in life and gave her the chance to become who she is and to bring up the children, of whom she is very much proud, and therefore, she strongly believes, children of immigrants need to be given equal chances with children of native Americans. However, in the year 1994 the voters of California approved Proposition 187, which refuses to provide public education and health care to any of the immigrants, who do not have proper paperwork. And this is what is the most intriguing in the film: the very problem that it addresses. The US, out of all the countries, consists of people, their children and grand children, who once immigrated here, came to the US in search of a better life, since their lives in their native countries were not quite satisfactory for them any more. However, nowadays the citizens of the country take a different position; it is the position of a person, who has come first, and now wants to stand up for its territory, rights and not being interested or engaged in any debates or peculiarities. This is very strange for the society, which believes to be civilized, modern, and democratic, to say the least. This position is far from even being human.

The movie shows us how the law is being opposed, or, to be more frank, is being used as arms, arms, used against the children, children of the parents, who have got no means of protecting their children. The teacher is being put into a position, where he/she has got to tell 90 per cent of his students off the class, only because they have got no proper paperwork, or, rather to say, their parents do not have such. But why do the children have to be punished for the mistakes of their parents? It was their parents, who failed to collect necessary papers, not children themselves. Meanwhile, nobody studied the reasons, due to which their parents failed to collect those. There could be a number of good reasons for such a failure. But the system or, in other words, our democratic and humane society could not care less. We are here and we feel comfortable, we hate to see our warm and cozy seat being taken by somebody else. So we would better fight against this somebody while he is a child, in order to prevent the honest and open competition in the future. Today the chances are obvious, while in the future, we may not be winning in this competition with a grown and educated person, who is now making his/her first steps in life.

Speaking of a scene, which impresses most, it is worthwhile underlining the scene, in which Mayra asks Simon, whether or not she was safe at school, whether or not she, just like other children, would be kicked out of school. This scene gives us a glimpse of the real, alive victim of the law, since a year later Mayra and her family are not around any more. It is not mentioned, where they are.

In general, the film shows the real life consequences, which the adaptation of the law had on regular people, the people, who came to the US in order to find a new better life, people, who came to share American dream, and were thrown away like garbage by the society, which believes this very American Dream to be their private property. The picture is sad, indeed, and it is very good, that it is being shown to us, to the society, in all of its ugliness. The society requires having a look into the mirror once in a while, despite the ugliness of the picture in the mirror. Such looks, such mirrors, such films may help the society to save itself from becoming a pack of wolves, protecting the territory they have taken first, from anybody, who may come next. Such movies and such pieces of art are what give our democratic society a chance to remain democratic. 

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