Given the freedom, how do students govern their education and one another?


Project Summary


For the entire 2016-2017 academic year, filmmakers and Studio Esmé co-founders Kenneth Chu and Diana Ecker were embedded at a “democratic school” in Brooklyn, where a community of K-12 students are given the freedom to govern their own education and one another.

"As we set out to capture their everyday existence and emotional realities throughout a politically charged year, we came to deeply understand schools as interconnected communities where each member is meaningful. We felt it was necessary then to better depict them as such instead of a traditional focus upon the singular experience(s) of 1-3 subjects." (K.Chu)

As part of a larger feature documentary film project, the web-based adaptation of “Free School” will test a new format and production approach designed to answer an increasingly relevant question: How do we better tell the story of a whole community or “collective character” in the Internet Age?

Specifically through "Free School", we aim to adapt for the Internet the short story cycle – a classic literary format that presents a collection of short cinematic stories arranged with the goal of creating an elevated experience when consumed as a whole as opposed to each standalone story.


Current Status


Post-production (feature-length film)

Early development (online adaptation)

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