Berdoo documentary showcases social struggles, resilience of SBCUSD students

Photos courtesy Berdoo Film: Berdoo is a powerful new film that follows the lives of students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. It is a film that shares the stories of multiple students and their struggles surrounding school. Pictured are district staff during a Safe Routes to School event, a resource featured in the film.
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Berdoo is a documentary capturing the struggles of San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) students and the challenges they overcome to succeed in school.

Another perspective the film showcases is how community members and school staff play a role in the success of many students across the district.

“There are so many struggles that SBCUSD students face everyday. Some of those struggles include safety, a lack of transportation, food scarcity, caring for siblings, and working to support their family,” said Nishita Matangi, MPH, Berdoo executive producer.

San Bernardino High School crew with SBHS alumni and Minnesota Vikings NFL player Alex Mattison.

Now graduated, Matangi conducted much research for Berdoo while concurrently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Loma Linda University and a media and medicine certificate program at Harvard University.

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Through research, Matangi found that although SBCUSD students are faced with safety concerns daily, they are well adapted to it.

“Other major struggles that our students face in the district include a lack of food, without food it can be difficult to concentrate. So many students play a vital role in maintaining their household cycle while their parents are working, by watching after siblings. While other students in the district are having to work, not to benefit themselves, but to support their family to make ends meet,” continued Matangi.

Berdoo producer Nishita Matangi has her Masters in Public Health and runs her own health communications consulting business and takes on projects like Berdoo to create platforms for community voice and to make public health information accessible and relatable.

Another important facet of the documentary showcases the resources that SBCUSD provides students to ensure safety and success.

“Some of the resources the district provides students as shown in Berdoo include the Safe Route program, where teachers and parent volunteers map out a safe route for students to walk to and from school. Also, with roughly 95 percent of students qualifying for subsidized meals, even throughout the pandemic, the district is continuing to provide students with breakfast and lunch…which was all captured,” Matangi said.

Other SBCUSD programs mentioned in Berdoo include its ATLAS program, which is committed to removing barriers, providing support and services for SBCUSD students in foster care and homeless situations; one of those resources within the program include laundry services.

The documentary also features San Bernardino High School Alum and Minnesota Vikings Running Back Alex Mattison, showcasing his sentiments and experience growing up in San Bernardino.

“San Bernardino is rarely shown in a positive light and our film carries a message of hope and resilience, which I believe truly reflects the people of the city. While we originally intended for Berdoo to release in 2021, the team and I worked hard to bump up the release date to Christmas 2020 as our gift to the community at the end of such an unprecedented year,” said Giacomo Thillet, Berdoo director.

“I never thought about film making, Berdoo, definitely took lots of convincing at first because my heart is in public health. But through this project, I got to see the opportunity at hand through public health, by connecting people to services,” concluded Matangi.

For more information or to view the documentary, visit

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