The Lottery

Watch The Lottery

"You could win an education"
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 1 hr 21 min
  • 6.9  (587)
  • 72

The Lottery is a thought-provoking documentary film that examines the state of education in the United States, specifically the controversial issue of charter schools. The film delves into the lives of four families who live in the inner city of Harlem, New York, and their quest for a better education for their children. The film is directed by Madeleine Sackler, who brings an investigative approach to the topic by interviewing education experts, politicians, parents, and teachers. One of the most notable figures interviewed is Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker, who is a strong proponent for charter schools.

The film begins with a lottery event, which takes place in Harlem, where hundreds of parents anxiously await the results of the lottery in order to secure a spot for their child at one of the city's charter schools. The lottery system is the only way for parents to gain entry to a charter school, as opposed to traditional public schools which follow a zoned enrollment approach.

The film shows that charter schools have become a hot topic in the US education system, as they offer an alternative to traditional public schools that have been criticized for low performance, limited resources, and inadequate teacher training. The families in the film explain their desperation for their children to receive a better education, as they feel that their local public schools are failing them.

One of the most powerful moments in the film is when a mother, Candice Fryer, shares her own experience with the education system. She recounts how her father was one of the first black students to integrate into a previously all-white school in Mississippi, and how he instilled in her the importance of education. However, despite her father's efforts, Candice's own education was subpar, and she knows firsthand the impact this has on a person's life.

The lottery event itself is an emotional rollercoaster, with many parents disappointed and heartbroken when their child's number isn't called. It's a stark reminder of the limited number of spots available and the many families that will be left with no other option than to send their children to failing public schools.

The film also highlights the challenges that charter schools face in providing quality education to all students. While charter schools offer an opportunity for low-income families to receive a better education, they also face criticism for not accepting students with disabilities, English language learners, or requiring students to have involved parents. The selective nature of charter schools, which often require an application process, has also garnered criticism for contributing to segregation.

Throughout the film, education experts such as Geoffrey Canada, former CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, discuss the importance of improving the education system as a whole, rather than relying on charter schools as a quick fix. Canada advocates for early education and community initiatives that address the root causes of poverty and offer support to families in underserved communities.

Overall, The Lottery offers a sobering look at the state of education in the United States and leaves viewers with questions about the role of government, public policy, and the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty.

The Lottery is a 2010 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 72.

The Lottery
Where to Watch The Lottery
The Lottery is available to watch free on Plex and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Lottery for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 21 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (587)
  • Metascore