On These Grounds

The school incident that exposed the division at America’s core

On These Grounds An explosive video goes viral, showing a white school resource officer in South Carolina pull a Black teenager from her school desk and throw her across the floor. An outraged nation divides over who is at fault and what role race played in the incident. Healer-Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life in NYC and moves to South Carolina to help the girl and dismantle the system behind the "Assault at Spring Valley". To contextualize this incident, geographer Janae Davis treks the surrounding swamps to unearth the overgrown and neglected homes of formerly enslaved people of African descent, drawing a throughline connecting trauma from the past to present.


 On These Grounds
(2021) on IMDb

Festivals

LaurelSXSW Film Festival – World Premiere
LaurelIndependent Film Festival Boston – Special Jury Award, Documentary Feature
LaurelMilwaukee Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelGiffoni International Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelSkyline Indie Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelBright Lights Film Series - Official Selection
LaurelCinemagic International Film and Television Festival For Young People - Official Selection
LaurelCinemagic International Film and Television Festival For Young People - Official Selection
LaurelAnchorage International Film Festival - Official Selection

The Producers


Ariana Garfinkel - Producer

Ariana is an independent film producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area and founder of Carriage House Pictures. In recent years, she produced the feature documentaries NEVER TOO LATE: THE DOC SEVERINSEN STORY (PBS American Masters 2021), YOU DON’T NOMI (Tribeca Film Festival 2019), I AM MARIS (Netflix); BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS (SXSW 2016, PBS Independent Lens 2017); and BOYS OF SUMMER (ESPN, PBS AfroPop, Netflix). She produced two narrative shorts directed by Lily Baldwin, SEA MEADOW (SXSW) and A JUICE BOX AFTERNOON (Lincoln Center). She previously held positions at Miramax Films, Tribeca Productions and Reno Productions, and graduated from Stanford University.


Garrett Zevgetis - Director

Garrett is a Boston-based filmmaker whose first feature documentary BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS had a World Premiere at SXSW in 2016, and screened at Hot Docs, Mill Valley Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston, Margaret Mead Film Festival and more, receiving five festival awards. The film was released theatrically by First Run Features (NYT Critics’ Pick), and broadcast by PBS’ Independent Lens and Netflix. Garrett grew up in Kissimmee, Florida, served in the U.S. Navy during Desert Storm, and earned an MFA in Media Art from Emerson College. Garrett has worked at PBS’ FRONTLINE and as a producer for the nationally syndicated public radio program, “Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon.” He was named one of 10 Filmmakers To Watch by The Independent Magazine.


Jeff Consiglio - Producer & Editor

Jeff has worked as a director, producer, editor and creative consultant on films for over 30 years. He edited the Oscar-winning documentary INOCENTE, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning WAR/DANCE, and HBO's LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM. He was producer and editor of BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS, TWINSTERS, OUT OF STATE, MY COUNTRY NO MORE, and editor of LFG, the HBOMax feature documentary on the US Women's soccer team.
He co-directed and produced the 2021 release NEVER TOO LATE: THE DOC SEVERINSEN STORY.


Chico Colvard - Producer

Chico is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, founder of C-LineFilms and Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. He is the former Founding Curator of the UMass Boston Film Series, where he taught race, law and media related courses for 15 years. His award-winning feature, FAMILY AFFAIR, premiered at Sundance and was the first film acquired by Oprah Winfrey for OWN. His recent film, BLACK MEMORABILIA premiered at MoMA and aired on PBS' Independent Lens. His current project for MTV is a series that looks at nine things not known about African American history.


Chanda Dancy - Producer

Chanda Dancy is a film composer, as well as a violinist, keyboardist, and singer. Dancy has been composing since the age of 12, and is an alumnus of the USC Film Scoring Program, and the Sundance Composers Lab.

Making The Film


Filmmakers' Statement

This film started with a question: What could we learn by thoroughly investigating one viral video? The Spring Valley incident touched a nerve throughout the world.

Schools are a microcosm for society, and we can see similar conflicts playing out with questions of civil liberties vs. safety, punishment vs. restorative practices, “law & order” vs. protest in the name of justice. From a journalistic standpoint, we report on both sides of the issues, gathering multiple perspectives, but we contend without equivocation that no child deserves to be targeted and criminalized at school.

Today, police officers patrol the hallways of half of American schools. Many are stationed there in the name of school safety without considering the social, practical, and psychological factors associated with their presence. The exponential increase in policing our schools has come with very little vetting or oversight, and students of color are disproportionately targeted. The year of this incident, 300,000 students were arrested or referred to law enforcement in school, and when a child is arrested they are twice as likely to drop out of school.

A fundamental principle of our filmmaking has been to add historic context to this single incident and spotlight systemic racism as a problem created and fostered by white people. We aim to interrogate whiteness by flushing out the justifications for the assault at Spring Valley High School. Meanwhile, the film showcases the courage and passion of young people and activists fighting every day for true school safety.

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