Approaching the Elephant

  • 89'
  • USA
  • 2014
How does a school manage that allows children to choose whether they follow lessons, and where there are democratic votes about all the rules? This striking documentary debut observes the first year in the existence of the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, New Jersey, the 262nd free school since the first opened in Barcelona in 1901.
The way you look at this subdued mix of direct cinema and Lord of the Flies shot in black-and-white probably says more about yourself than anything else. For some, this radical experiment will be an excrescence of consultation culture gone out of hand, while others will think the many conflicts prove that democracy works.
Whatever your own verdict, the patient camera of Amanda Rose Wilder shows that it’s worth taking children seriously and treating them as equals - even though this equality leads to a drastic climax in which the school has to be classically authoritarian in order to get rid of its biggest problem.


Director
Amanda Rose Wilder
Country of production
USA
Production Year
2014
Festival Edition
IFFR 2015
Length
89'
Medium
File
Language
English
Producers
Jay Craven, Robert Greene, Amanda Rose Wilder
Production Company
Kingdom County Productions
Sales
The Film Sales Company
Cinematography
Amanda Rose Wilder
Editor
Robert Greene
Sound Design
Amanda Rose Wilder
Website
http://approachingtheelephant.com