Starring: Hilary Swank and Imelda Staunton Director: Richard LaGravenese Year of original release: 2007 Genre: true-life drama Set-up The movie is set in 1994, a period of unrest in Los Angeles after some of the worst riots in the city??s history. Freedom Writers follows a young teacher??s struggles to earn the respect of her tough-minded, multiracial students. Some critics saw the film as yet another Hollywood tale about a well-meaning and earnest white teacher who is faced with indifferent students who eventually come around through the sheer force of her personality. This type of story has been tackled many times both in the cinema and on television. Yet Freedom Writers is in a class of its own because of its honest approach. It also features a gifted group of young actors who play the unruly students. Although the outcome of the story may not seem in doubt right from the start, the journey along the way is moving and involving. The film didn??t create much critical or commercial interest when it was released, yet it??s not the sentimental cliched movie many people had expected. The story??s strength lies in the fact that it??s based on the experiences of a real-life teacher and her real-life class. The plot Armed with ambitious plans, a young, idealistic teacher called Erin Gruwell arrives at Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles. She is ready to change the world, yet she finds the school to be an urban battle zone between students from warring ethnically-based teen gangs. Studying with the new teacher is the last thing on the mind of the Latino and black students. But Erin will not back down. She uses The Diary of Anne Frank as a way of getting through to her students. She asks them to use Anne's famous journals as a model for their own diaries. She even arranges for someone who helped hide Anne's family during the second world war to come to the school and talk to the students. After a visit to the local Museum of Tolerance, Erin's resolve to get through to her students slowly begins to bear fruit. Street gangs Street gang culture in American cities is a complex and emotional subject. Teens and young adults are pulled into gangs for a variety of reasons, but cultural identity, poverty and lack of strong family background are seen by experts as the main reasons. Powerful African-American, Hispanic and Asian gangs are present in more than 800 cities. Nationwide unemployment is helping fuel the growth of street gang culture. Los Angeles is at the heart of street gang crimes. It sees hundreds of gang-related murders every year. The Museum of Tolerance The Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance is a multimedia learning facility that focuses on the historical and present-day effects of prejudice and racism on human societies. The museum, which opened in 1993, attracts 350,000 visitors each year. A third of these are students. The main part of the museum is the Holocaust Section, where visitors witness Nazi Germany's terrible persecution and murder of millions of the Jews in Europe during the second world war. The museum often moves visitors to tears. At times, Holocaust survivors visit the museum to talk about their experiences. At the beginning of their visits, students are given cards with photos and details of Jewish children in Nazi Germany during the war years. At the end of their visit, visitors are told which children survived and which died during the Holocaust. A tour of the Museum of Tolerance in heart of Los Angeles is a thought-provoking and often emotional event for any visitor. As The New York Times said: 'This is no ordinary museum.' www.museumoftolerance.com Gang loyalty Gang members are required to follow a strict set of rules set down by gang leaders. Failure to obey a gang's strict code of conduct will result in severe punishment. Loyalty is a strong force in any American street gang, no matter what its racial origins are. The 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles is one of the largest youth gangs in America. It's notorious for its involvement in all levels of street crime. The majority of the gang's members are of Mexican origin, but the gang has recently been accepting new members of other ethnic origins. It is thought that the 18th Street Gang alone has thousands of members spread all over the Los Angeles area. Police authorities and social experts studying street gang dynamics estimate that more than 200 separate youth street gangs operate within the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. Anne Frank (1929-1945) Anne Frank is known all over the world because of the secret diaries she kept when she was hiding with her family from the Nazis in the Netherlands in the early 1940s. Anne's family was Jewish, and when German troops occupied her hometown of Amsterdam, the authorities began rounding up Jews to send them to death camps. Anne and her family spent two years hiding from the Nazis in a small set of rooms behind Mr Frank's office and warehouse. They were protected by non-Jewish friends, who risked their own lives to save the Franks. During the time that Anne spent in hiding, she kept a diary recording her feelings and thoughts about what was happening to her family. But in August 1944, the Frank family was betrayed to the Nazis and sent off to a concentration camp. Anne died the following year. Anne's diary was discovered after the end of the war and was given to her father, the only member of the family to survive the war. Her diary was published in 1947 and became an international bestseller. Since then it has been translated into 66 languages and remains in print worldwide. The rooms in which Anne hid for two long years are now a popular museum in Amsterdam.