The Rule

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: In Distribution


Want Inner City Schools to Finally Succeed?


Feature Documentary released theatrically in NYC, LA, and Ontario and on national PBS and foreign public TV.

Screened by the White House on Educational Excellence for African Americans at the U.S.D.O.E. in '16

See how the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey, in the heart of one of America's most dangerous cities, are able to achieve amazing success with the most vulnerable population: inner city African American and Latino teenage males.  While Newark, NJ, with a high poverty rate of 32%, has an abysmal high school graduation rate, St. Benedict's Prep has a near 100% COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE rate.  The film details how their "recipe for success" follows the 6th century Rule of Saint Benedict and how this rule can serve as a model for whole cities nationwide.  86 min.


Our home city of Newark, New Jersey has great potential but suffers from the devastating effects of poverty.  As a result, since 2007, the city has experienced increases in the murder rate - from 8th to 7th highest in the nation;  unemployment - from 9.5 to 14.2%;  poverty rate - from 25% to an even more appalling 32%.  With a population of 278,000, this means that almost 90,000 Newarkers live in poverty!  Therefore, inner city schools, unlike their higher socioeconomic counterparts, are faced with difficult challenges that necessitate providing young people with the tools that counteract the environment of poverty, in order for kids to attain maturity and educational success.  

During a tour of REVOLUTION '67 we met historian Dr. Tom McCabe, who introduced us to St. Benedict's Prep (SBP).  In Newark, where the average high school graduation rate is abysmal, SBP is the exception — with a near 100 percent college acceptance rate for their predominantly African American and Latino young men.  In our THE RULE feature documentary, we profile the school and the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey to see how and why they achieve success.

Making this film we learned that, for inner city youth, cognitive skills are impeded by the dysfunctional environment caused by poverty.  Inner city schools must be committed to helping students overcome this dysfunction so that the process of education can begin.  At SBP, this commitment includes protracted counseling as well as a year-round residence for the most vulnerable students. 

We worked with alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University and NJ teachers to develop a free study guide for policymakers and educators that uses THE RULE as a vehicle for urban school reform.

While REVOLUTION '67 explored the causes for the demise of Rust Belt cities like Newark, and THE RULE presents the solutions for school reform, the third in our 3Rs Trilogy of films on Urban America is RUST, focusing on poverty reduction.


Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno - Filmmakers

Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno are Emmy-nominated, award-winning husband and wife filmmakers of Bongiorno Productions, who create cutting-edge fictional, documentary, and museum installation art films that are widely distributed.


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"Uplifting documentary offers a rare ray of hope" ~The Hollywood Reporter
“Powerful new film” ~Naomi Schaefer Riley New York Post
“Startling success” ~Daphne Howland The Village Voice


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