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The Lottery Trailer
Great Curve Films

The Lottery Trailer


THE LOTTERY is a 2010 documentary that uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. THE LOTTERY follows four families in the weeks leading up to the largest charter school lottery in New York State. 


Intimate scenes with the families reveal the parents’ dreams for their children in the face of the realities that they face in this country. Out of thousands of children entered into this lottery, only a small minority can win, and as the lottery nears, we see that as much as they might hope, the parents’ choices, and possibly the children’s futures, are ultimately limited. As THE LOTTERY reveals, these limitations often come from the politically charged questions that surround the future of public education, as politicians and teachers unions begin to protest this very school that the families are hoping their children can attend.


THE LOTTERY is Madeleine Sackler's first film. It helped to spark a renewed debate on the future of public education and was short-listed for the 2011 Academy Awards.



THE LOTTERY is Madeleine Sackler's first film. While she was working as an editor in New York City in 2008, Madeleine saw a local news segment about one of the city's annual school lotteries. Several-thousand parents were lined up around the city block, hoping that their child’s name would be called. Madeleine felt that this long line of hopeful parents was a visual metaphor for a massive, systemic problem in public education, which was not serving all children equally, and Madeleine set out to tell the story of the parents and children hoping to win a spot in a good school. 


Over the course of making the film, the school she was featuring became a central part of the political debate that was raging over the future of public education, especially as President Obama instituted his Race to the Top program, and protests grew over this and other public charter schools around New York City. The film developed to include not just portraits of families, but also a unique snapshot of how the public debate surrounding public education has become so divisive, with the families and children caught in the middle.


Madeleine has since directed five more films. The latest are O.G., her narrative film debut, which tells the story of a man the verge of his release from prison, and IT'S A HARD TRUTH AIN'T IT, a documentary co-directed with thirteen men who are currently incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. Both films have been acquired by HBO.


Madeleine graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

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