Cinema East Screens Documentary Approaching the Elephant on Sunday

approaching-the-elephantCinema East kicked off their summer film series this past Sunday with a screening of narrative feature I Believe in Unicorns. The series continues this Sunday, June 29th with a screening of documentary feature Approaching the Elephant at the French Legation off East 7th St in Austin. The film documents the inaugural year at the Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey. A free school is a school in which all stakeholders, teachers and students, have equal voices and all decisions and rules are determined by democratic vote.

The name of the school, Teddy McArdle, as well as the film itself, are derived from the short story “Teddy” by J.D. Salinger, in which a character muses on the structure of school, essentially landing on a version of schooling where all preconceived notions are left behind. Teddy says, “I might show them an elephant, if I had one handy, but I’d let them just walk up to the elephant not knowing anything more about it than the elephant knew about them.” In the same way that school director and founder Alex Khost leaves behind all expectations of traditional school, we must leave behind our own notions of schooling to fully appreciate the film.

In fact, we must leave behind some of our expectations of documentaries, as director Amanda Rose Wilder does not interview the subjects of the film and instead allows the dynamics between individuals to unfold throughout their actions alone. The film is undoubtedly uncomfortable at times, but it raises some serious questions about the efficacy of our current systems and opens a dialogue about how we might go about shifting our approach to education. However, that doesn’t mean change will be easy or smooth. Show up at the French Legation early to stake our your spot. A short film about metal band Unlocking the Truth, comrprised of three barely teenaged boys will play preceding the feature. Admission is a sliding scale of $3-$5. See you all on Sunday!

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About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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