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Best Kept Secret

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PBS Premiere: September 23, 2013


At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, "You've reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark's best-kept secret." JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they "age out" of the system. (90 minutes)

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Film Information

Best Kept Secret (90 min.)

Premiere Date: September 23, 2013

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmaker: Samantha Buck Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Press Release | Fact Sheet | Critical Acclaim


Samantha Buck
Samantha Buck

Film Update

Critical Acclaim

The film’s director, Samantha Buck, demonstrates a sensitivity comparable to that of Frederick Wiseman. . . . Best Kept Secret is an exemplary documentary: It spotlights an important issue yet never seeks to squeeze the truth into an easily digestible narrative frame. Instead it expands its storytelling to the boundaries of messy, joyful and painful reality. NYT Critics’ Pick. ”

— Miriam Bale New York Times

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept. . . . Samantha Buck’s documentary smartly sits back and watches as Mino works away. Apart from a few, briskly factual titles, there are no editorial intrusions here—no yammering experts, no pontificating activists, no sappy sentimental music. Just these kids, and the people who love them. . . . A haunting film. .”

— Steve WhittyThe Star-Ledger

As Samantha Buck’s moving documentary makes clear, the secret weapon at the public school for special-needs students is Janet Mino, an inspirational teacher with limitless patience and indefatigable enthusiasm. . . . [The film] inserts the viewer into the overwhelming experience of teaching, parenting, even being an underprivileged young adult with autism. ”

.— Annlee EllingsonLos Angeles Times

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