Skype Q&A with filmmaker following the screening
USA, 2014, Wilder Films, B&W, 89min.
Year one for Lucy, Jiovanni and director Alexander at the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, New Jersey, where classes are voluntary and rules created by democratic vote. Wilder is there from the beginning, observing an indelible cast of outspoken young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head.
There is seven-year-old daredevil Lucy, bright and confident, a staunch inquisitor of authority figures, eleven-year-old Jiovanni, a troubled leader who oscillates between doggedly pursuing his interests and wreaking havoc, and Alex, the school’s youthful founder and director who since he was a teenager dreamed of opening a free school. As the children figure out how direct democracy works and what to do with their time, the weight of one person’s destructive tendencies increasingly bear down on the small community. Evoking the immersive styles of Frederick Wiseman and Allan King, APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT is a rare, inspired portrait of unfettered childhood. -- Amanda Wilder, Director
2014 Emerging Cinematic Vision Award, Camden International Film Festival
2015 Truer Than Fiction Award, Film Independent Spirit Awards
Festivals: True/False, Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, BAMcinemaFest, Wisconsin,
Sarasota, Maryland, Nantucket, Camden, Festival do Rio, New Orleans, RIDM,
2015 Debut Feature, Cinema Eye Honors
Torino, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You