a documentary film
Madeleine Sackler had the idea for The Lottery in 2008, while watching news footage of then-named Harlem Success Academy's (now named The Success Academy Charter School) annual student lottery, where a precious number of places are randomly awarded to applying families. Thousands of children are turned away from spots at this and other high-performing charter schools each year, and that image, though saddening, was also inspiring. I came onboard once the film was mostly shot. Once we had the film finished, the question was what to do with it.
Having had some experience trying to sell films at festivals in the past, and knowing how difficult that can be, we decided to take a more pro-active approach. We contacted numerous foundations and painstakingly raised money to release the film ourselves. We were able to make some significant DVD sales, and a deal with Gravitas Ventures via Warner Brothers to distribute the film into 80 million homes across the country. Dylan Marchetti and his company Variance Films handled our 6-city theatrical release, while we engineered a 30-state university tour. The Lottery received a great deal of attention from the press because of the political environment - education was one of President Obama's primary areas of focus that year. The Lottery was selected to the short-list for the Academy Awards in 2010.
'm most proud of the way The Lottery has contributed to the gradual realization that there is absolutely no reason that a great education can't be had by all, if politics and people would stay out of the way. While the realities that the film exposes are upsetting, the characters and many of the people in the film - from the families that we followed, to Success Academy Charter Schools founder Eva Moskowitz and her teachers and administrators, to Geoffrey Canada, Dacia Toll, and others, are inspiring. Take the time to see this movie on iTunes, Netflix, or Hulu.
Here is our trailer, created with Goodspot in Los Angeles.