A Teaching Scene from Finding Forrester directed by Gus Van Sant

We’ve seen the story before: an old, wise in the ways of the world, often grumpy man agrees to share what he’s learned in life with a young, naive, often happy-go-lucky boy. Although Finding Forrester has some of those elements, it turns the stereotype upside down.

Jamal, a 16-year-old African American high school student, finds a writing tutor in an elderly hermit, William Forrester, who happens to be a Pulitzer-Prize winning author. But as the film progresses, the two switch roles, and it is Forrester who learns from Jamal. At the end of the film, he acknowledges as much in a letter:

“Dear Jamal,

“Someone I once knew wrote that we walk away from our dreams afraid that we may fail or, worse yet, afraid that we may succeed. You need to know that while I knew so very early on that you would realize your dreams, I never imaginaed I would once again realize my own.

“Seasons change, young man, and while I may have waited until the winter of my life to see the things I’ve seen this past year, there is no doubt I would have waited too long had it not been for you.”


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