College Material

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


“College Material” follows a group of NYC public school students through the stressful college application experience over a year, at a time when higher education is getting ever more politicized.


Forty percent of high schoolers forgo college, many lacking the means or encouragement to apply. At Humanities Prep, a public high school in NYC, most of the students are the first in their families to attend college. They start the process knowing little about the prestigious schools to which they will be applying, but a volunteer college counselor helps open up the possibilities for them.


I aim to examine the importance of of higher education by looking inside the lives of high school seniors as they apply and get into different universities over a year's time. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will likely strike down Affirmative Action and end President Biden's college loan forgiveness plan, as Chat GPT and remote learning are completely disrupting the traditional college experience. So, this is a pivotal time to examine what college represents to students. 


Joel Gershon - Director

Joel Gershon (Director, Producer, Cinematographer) has worked in print and broadcast media for two decades since graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2003. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and has worked for many years as a media studies professor and is based in Washington, DC.

Shortly after earning his Master’s degree, Joel worked at Air America Radio alongside talents such as Al Franken, Marc Maron and Janeane Garofalo, and as a producer on Chuck D. and Rachel Maddow’s radio show, just as she was becoming a household name. Joel moved to Bangkok to take a reporter job with the International Herald Tribune in 2005, and stayed for 12 years, producing a range of print stories, TV pieces and short films.

He returned to the U.S. in 2017 to teach at American University’s School of Communication where he lectured for several years. In 2020, his first feature-length documentary film, “Cirque du Cambodia,” which he started in 2011, premiered at the United Nations Association Film Festival and has won various awards and was selected for other prestigious film festivals.


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