An alternative school in small-town Indiana is the last, best chance for struggling teens to earn a high-school diploma. For Devin, Hannah, Zariah, and Keegan, just getting an education has been an uphill battle. The four teens, who fell through the cracks of the public school system, have vastly different personalities, but all are engaging in their own way. They face a daunting array of obstacles — from teen pregnancy to a penchant for fights — and make a fair share of bad decisions, but the audience can’t help but root for them to overcome the bleak environment in which they live, with its declining manufacturing economy, worsening opioid crisis, and general lack of hope. Following the teens and their inspirational school administrator, Roger, at the Marion Crossing Educational Center, director Kathy Bruner provides a cinéma vérité view of the school, as the staff works to overcome the students’ challenges by teaching job skills, providing counseling, and showing needed empathy. “Last Year at the Crossing” offers a revealing snapshot of life in the American heartland, where all too many people are living in survival mode.
With director Bruner.