Steven Feinberg, the director, producer, writer and head of the RI Film Office, has released a trailer for his new film, PELL, which tells the inspiring story of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell and his fight, against all odds, to give every student the opportunity to get a higher education regardless of their economic background.
PELL takes you from the mansions of Newport to the dramatic behind the scenes legislative conference in 1972 to recount how a wealthy, unassuming Senator from Rhode Island reached across party lines and was able to get the House and Senate members to vote for the passage of the Pell Grant legislation. From his early days in the Coast Guard, Senator Claiborne Pell sought to help his fellow seamen get access to the kind of college education that he received at Princeton. PELL details his fervent quest to bring the Pell Grants financial aid for each and every student to fruition.
Pell Grants, which was ultimately passed into law in 1972, as government grants continues to be an intricate part of the higher education puzzle for many college-bound students as tuitions spiral out of control. PELL reveals the in-depth, and often, suspenseful drama of how the Pell Grants developed from a dream to reality, and how the primary author, Senator Pell, overcame a host of challenges (from some of the most unlikely sources), and yet managed to successfully open the powerful gates of higher education for many students yearning to learn.
The original responsibility of Pell Grants was to cover nearly 80 percent of tuition costs at a four-year public college. However, as college today is unaffordable for many students, a Pell Grant maximum at $5775, covers less than 36 percent of those costs. This seems minimal when you consider that $24,061 a year is the average price tag for tuition, fees, room and board at a public college. The comparable figure is almost $47,831 at a private university. Although a bi-partisan legislation, Pell Grants continues to be treated by Congress as a welfare program by trimming eligibility each year and Pell Grants need to be re-appropriated.
PELL showcases personal stories of Pell Grant recipients including Jean Paul Valencia, the first in his family to go to college as he walks through the gates of Harvard; community college student advocates addressing lawmakers on Capital Hill; icon recipients including Viola Davis and former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. PELL talks to former NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin, about STEM education and its importance for future generations.
PELL takes you through the relevant issues of education today within the realm of politics, where players weigh in heavily on governments current mandate. And with the urgency of the student loan debt crisis, the PELL documentary could not come at a better time, as it shines the light on governments responsibility to aid in the education of those who seek it.
Director: Steven Feinberg
Writers: Steven Feinberg, Elyse Katz (story)
Run Time: 52 mins
info via IMDB