Film Review: THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE (directed by Amy Goldstein)

Post image for Film Review: THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE (directed by Amy Goldstein)

by Nia Liat on January 5, 2022

in Film

THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE delves into the 2019 crisis at Hampshire College when students led a 75-day sit-in – the longest in American college history – at the new president’s office to thwart her underhanded attempt to shut down one of the most experimenting colleges in the United States.


Hampshire College was founded 50 years ago based on the seminal book The Making Of A College to radically reimagine liberal arts education. Inspired by this philosophy of critical thinking, a collection of dedicated and charismatic students went on a rescue mission with a coalition of undergrads, faculty, staff, and alumni to find out who was leading the threat to their college, and why.

President Miriam “Mim” Nelson meets with Hampshire College students.

The thrilleresque unfolding of this singular story goes beyond a single school, and foretells a looming crisis in higher education at a time when many colleges are failing. If Hampshire were to close, what would that mean for colleges and universities throughout the country? This is also a story of young people moved to action, how they were changed forever by their choices and how they are becoming our future leaders.

Cheyenne Palacio-McCarthy in THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE.

The film is constructed from a mix of video captured by the students and their social media threads, traditional observational footage, press conferences, news footage, and radio broadcasts. Hampshire alum, Amy Goldstein, weaves their powerful documentation with interviews with students, professors, whistleblowers, and alumni including filmmaker Ken Burns, into a suspenseful and raucous ode to democracy in action.

Hampshire students organizing in THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE.

photos courtesy of Span Productions

President Miriam “Mim” Nelson in THE UNMAKING OF A COLLEGE.

Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber
2022  | not rated  | 84 min  | in English
IFC Center in New York on February 11, 2022
Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on February 18, 2022
with other cities to follow

Comments on this entry are closed.