What do you do when your child is stuck with a teacher who doesn’t even attempt to teach or control her classroom, in an inner-city school that has been labeled as “failing” for close to two decades? If this school is in California, you can attempt to use the state’s “Parent Trigger Law,” which allows parents to use a petition process to essentially “take over” the school and enact wide-ranging changes. “Won’t Back Down,” a new film from director Daniel Barnz, is based loosely on the events surrounding the use of this trigger law in an L.A.-area school in 2010.
In “Won’t Back Down,” Jamie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is appalled by the complete lack of education that her daughter is getting at Adams Elementary School, and decides to use the Trigger Law to try to turn things around. To do this, Jamie enlists the help of Nona Alberts (Viola Davis), a teacher at the school who needs something to restore her love for teaching and rebuild her own life. These two very determined mothers quickly realize that forcing change will be an uphill battle. They risk everything to go up against a school board with a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, and a union rep (Holly Hunter) that goes all out to stop them.
Written by Daniel Barnz and Brin Hill, “Won’t Back Down” was released by 20th Century Fox on September 28, 2012. The drama, which is rated PG for thematic elements and language, also stars Oscar Isaac, Rosie Perez, Lance Reddick and Emily Alyn Lind.