Early each morning Nicholas Kristof would board the No. 6 bus and ride through the hills and valleys of Yamhill, Oregon to get to his local public school. With him were some of his closest childhood friends and neighbors, people he had known all his life. But today, nearly a quarter of the kids who rode that bus with him have died. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn return to Nick’s hometown to find out what really happened?
They quickly find themselves at the heart of a much bigger story about those who fall through the cracks of America, destroyed by poverty, addiction, suicide and homelessness. In this boots-on-the-ground, intensely personal journey across our country, they find inequality is killing millions of American every year. These “deaths of despair” prompt the crucial question—how do we recover as a country and lift ourselves from systemic poverty and the brutal policies that have persisted for decades in one of the richest countries on earth. What Nick and Sheryl ultimately discover is that the American Dream of self-reliance is a false narrative, and for most, the concept of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, is impossible to achieve.
As we head into one of the most consequential elections in our history – this searing and personal story reveals that despite this grim reality, human kindness and potential, when harnessed, can change the future.
Viva Van Loock
Director of Photography
David Hoon Newman
Technical Director and Post Production Supervisor
Lead Assistant Editor
VPM – Virginia Foundation for Public Media
The Hilton Foundation