Creator, actors of ‘Won’t Back Down’ discuss controversial movie

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by Tene’ Croom

Two mothers, one played by Viola Davis, who is also a teacher, and the other portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, are extremely upset about the lack of attention to their crumbling inner city school.

They don’t just complain about it. These mothers work to change things and refuse to back down when up against as the publicity for the movie, “Won’t Back Down,” puts it “entrenched bureaucracy.”

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VIOLA DAVIS, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL (Photo by Kerry Hayes)

The drama, filmed in Pittsburgh, has a dynamic cast. Award winning British actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is in the role of the head of the Board of Education in the film.

“It’s a very simple story with a very complex subject matter. But, it’s told on a very human level.” Jean-Baptiste said.

She stated some cold hard facts about the public school system.

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TENE’ CROOM WITH MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE

“There are awful statistics coming out about, you know, children failing in schools in particular neighborhoods. It really is about a zip code. If you’re lucky enough to be born in a decent area you may get a good public school. But, if you’re not these schools can sometimes be feeder schools for prisons.”

You probably remember Jean-Baptiste from her breakthrough performance in the 1996 movie, “Secrets and Lies.” She garnered an Academy Award nomination, becoming the first Black Briton to be so honored. Davis and Gyllenhaal are also Oscar nominees.

Daniel Barnz is the Director and co-screenwriter of “Won’t Back Down.” Both of his parents are teachers. His mother-in-law started the first public alternative middle school in New York and his sister is a public school teacher, so he wants it known that he is a strong supporter of public schools.

“I was really excited to go out and make a movie that would not only tackle issues of education reform, but really, I hope, inspire people to want to make a change.”

“Won’t Back Down” was released nationwide on Sept. 28.

(Both Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Daniel Barnz spoke exclusively with Tene’ Croom, President of Tene’ Croom Communications. Reach her at tene.croom.tc@gmail.com or http://www.tenecroom.com.)

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