Contact: Kelly Hargraves
(323) 662-1930


First Run Features presents the premiere of
A definitive look at the state of teaching in America,
that offers a solution to the education crisis.

Narrated by Matt Damon

Opens Friday, September 30th
In New York at the Empire AMC Cinemas
In Los Angeles at the Broadway AMC Santa Monica
San Francisco, Boston and other cities to follow

Filmmakers and subjects are available for interviews

"American Teacher raises important questions about America's teachers. It should spark
a much-needed conversation
." -Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

AMERICAN TEACHER is the feature-length documentary produced and directed by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth; produced by Nínive Calegari, co-founder of the literacy non-profit 826 National, and best-selling author Dave Eggers; and narrated by Academy Award-winner Matt Damon.

AMERICAN TEACHER chronicles the stories of four teachers - Erik Benner, Jonathan Dearman, Jamie Fidler, and Rhena Jasey - who live and work in disparate urban and rural areas of the country. By following these teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers, the film tells the deeper story of the teaching profession in America today. The film
shows us the experience of these four young teachers as they recognize the importance of what they do, and how much they love what they do, but ask: can I afford to continue to teach?

Undeniable research shows that a child's school success depends on quality teaching. In the next ten years, more than half of the current 3.2 million teachers will be eligible to retire. We will then have a choice: continue with the current, broken system of trying to attract talented college graduates to the teaching profession by offering low pay, long hours, little support, and no prestige - a system that results in high turnover and low morale and translates into 85 percent of graduates refusing to even consider the profession. Or we change: increase compensation and improve conditions to attract the best college graduates who might otherwise go into law, finance, or other lucrative fields. With the best and the brightest in the profession, schools will get better.

Based on the New York Times best-selling book, Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers (The New Press:2005), AMERICAN TEACHER is an endeavor of The Teacher Salary Project, a nonprofit organization offering an interactive online resource and a national outreach campaign to change how teachers are valued in our society.

The New York and LA premieres will be followed by premieres in other cities as well as community screenings hosted by teachers all over the country.

About the Director and Producers:

Vanessa Roth (Producer/Director) has been making pivitol non-fiction films for over a decade. Her films have been honored with dozens of awards including an Academy Award for Freeheld and an Alfred I Dupont Award for TAKEN IN. Other film include, CLOSE TO HOME, AGING OUT: SCHOOLS OF THE 21st CENTURY, THE THIRD MONDAY IN OCTOBER, 9/11'S TOXIC DUST, and NO TOMORROW. They have been released theatrically and broadcast on PBS, HBO, the Discovery Channel, A&E, and the Sundance Channel, screened at hundreds of film festivals, used in colleges and universities across the country as training for lawyers, social workers, journalists, and fellow filmmakers, have appeared on Oprah, NPR, and as part of the Youth Inaugural Events in Washington D.C. Vanessa also teaches at NYU and is a frequent guest speaker about using social issue media and storytelling for progressive change.

Nínive Calegari (Producer) is a veteran teacher with almost ten years’ experience in the classroom, including experience in both charter schools and large comprehensive high schools. She is the cofounder and former executive director of 826 Valencia, and most recently served as the CEO of 826 National, a literacy nonprofit that galvanizes volunteers in eight cities to support teachers and help students improve their writing skills. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and is a co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers. She is an advisory board member of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, was appointed a San Francisco Arts Commissioner by Mayor Gavin Newsom, and is a recipient of Edutopia’s 2007 Daring Dozen award for being one of twelve people “reshaping the future of education.”

Dave Eggers (Producer) is the author of six books: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, How We Are Hungry, Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers, What Is the What, and Zeitoun. He is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, a quarterly magazine and book-publishing company, and is co-founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, and The Believer. In 2004 he co-taught a class at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, out of which grew the Voice of Witness series of books, designed to illuminate contemporary human crises through oral history.

Thao Nguyen of THAO WITH GET DOWN STAY DOWN, an up and coming alternative folk rock band from San Francisco California, scored the music.

American Teacher
81 mins, US, 2011, English, Digital

Produced and Directed by Vanessa Roth
Produced by Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers
Edited and co-directed by Brian McGinn
Music by Thao Nguyen
Narrated by Matt Damon


Thursday, September 8th at 6pm
Magno Review 2
729 Seventh Ave, NYC 10019 | (212) 302-2505,  Ext. 3

RSVP to by September 2


Friday, September 30th, time TBA
AMC Santa Monica

1310 3rd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | (310) 451-9440

RSVP to by September 26

For stills and additional press materials go to
For more information on The Teacher Salary Project, please visit:

AMC Santa Monica show times: 1:00 and 715

First Run Features will release AMERICAN TEACHER on DVD in December.