[Discuss-sudbury-model] SVS graduate in the news

From: Mike Sadofsky <sadofsky_at_comcast.net>
Date: Sun Jun 13 08:01:41 2004

An article concerning a Sudbury Valley School graduate appears today
in the MetroWest Daily News, a Framingham based newspaper.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/artsCulture/view.bg?articleid=70621

Article text follows:

>Filming the ravages of war: After winning Peabody Award, Holliston native set to focus on Iraq
>By Mary Greendale / News Correspondent
>Sunday, June 13, 2004What does Laura Poitras, formerly of Holliston, have in common with Tom Brokaw of NBC and with "60 Minutes"?
>
> Recently, they each received a Peabody Award, considered the most prestigious award for excellence in broadcast media. Poitras co-produced and filmed the documentary film "Flag Wars" with Linda Goode Bryant.
>
> Now, with the Peabody added to her curriculum vita, Poitras is off to Iraq to film the U.S. and coalition nation-building efforts.
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> Olde Towne East in Columbus, Ohio, the scene for "Flag Wars," bears some resemblance to Iraq in that both are about conflicts that arise when outsiders arrive and impose change on existing residents.
>
> "Flag Wars" reveals the battle for the identity of a neighborhood of working-class blacks. The newcomers were white gays and lesbians who were unwelcome in the suburbs.
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> Their considerable resources and close-knit network made it possible for them to restore large, dilapidated houses to splendor. Gays proudly hung rainbow flags off front porches and in response, "blacks hung Black National flags. Flags punctuated the landscape," Poitras said.
>
> To Poitras, "(This situation) provides a fascinating set of complex questions to explore. Would these two groups, who are both outsiders in the larger society, find common ground? How would class, race and sexuality impact how these communities were, and were not, able to live together?"
>
> Poitras explained, "I'm interested in making documentaries that honestly reveal human struggle and contradictions, and that don't provide easy answers. I'm also interested in making films that both make people uncomfortable and ask people to recognize the humanity that we all share."
>
> "Flag Wars"follows the stories of two blacks and a white lesbian Realtor. Linda Mitchell, a black woman with many emotional and medical problems, defiantly paints "not for sale" on her house.
>
> She is dragged into the legal system when she cannot pay to repair her house, which is in violation of building codes. After following her travails through the system, encountering some poignant and some humorous moments, the film closes with the lesbian Realtor, Nina, showing Mitchell's house to prospective buyers after Mitchell's death.
>
> The Realtor was unhappy with the film's portrayal of her, but Poitras was "pretty surprised that Nina was so unhappy with it. Others were happy. If the neighbors had organized to help Linda Mitchell fix up her house or raise money for her, that would have been a different story, but that's not what happened."
>
> The filmmaker explained that the story led them to film a conservative minister tearing the rainbow flag from the pole at the State House as well as the police guarding the Ku Klux Klan at a parade to show "there was a larger discrimination that the neighborhood had to confront. (All of that) puts the film into con."
>
> A Boston critic suggested that the picture left viewers "wondering (where) the big picture went," but declared the film worth seeing. Poitras responds by saying, "I am not a teacher trying to communicate information. Rather, I'm interested in finding stories that are unfolding in the moment, where I and the audience don't know where the journey will lead."
>
> Although she lived in a small town, Poitras explained that Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, the alternative school she attended from ages 4-17, had "the philosophy that children are naturally curious and self-motivated to learn. I spent a lot of my time as a kid doing creative things -- drawing, painting. I grew up in the late '60s, early '70s, which was a very radical, counterculture time. Sudbury Valley was also a very radical place, philosophically. So I guess it didn't feel so small town because of what was happening in the world and what I saw on TV."
>
> Asked if she was afraid about going to Iraq, she said, "I'd be crazy not to be, but I will learn as much as I can about personal security before I go."
>
> She will be embedded in the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Unit, a highly specialized division. These are not soldiers of war, but non-combat Army Reservists who are civilian experts in language, judicial and cultural affairs.
>
> They volunteer for yearlong service in war zones to help stabilize civilian populations. Poitras will film at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and take three trips to Iraq between June and January 2005 to record events as Iraq moves to sovereignty.
>
> About "Flag Wars," Poitras said, "I hope that people recognize the similarities between people. They make different choices, have different values, but maybe the story can build a bridge for understanding." The same might be said for her upcoming work in Iraq.
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>( "Flag Wars" airs Tuesday, June 15 on PBS WGBH Channel 44 at 9 p.m. As Chris Barry of EfilmCritic.com said, "Put simply, this is a documentary that you really should see. It might make you look at your own attitudes to your neighbors just a )
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Received on Sun Jun 13 2004 - 08:00:54 EDT

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