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

From: David Rovner <>
Date: Sun Jun 13 11:16:00 2004

It's a pity you have to put your abilities to test by means of wars, local
and/or foreign -- instead of "building" something !!

~ David

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Sadofsky" <>
To: <>;
Sent: Sunday, June 13, 2004 2:00 PM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] SVS graduate in the news

> An article concerning a Sudbury Valley School graduate appears today
> in the MetroWest Daily News, a Framingham based newspaper.
> 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.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > 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
> >
> > 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.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >( "Flag Wars" airs Tuesday, June 15 on PBS WGBH Channel 44 at 9 p.m. As
Chris Barry of 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 )
Received on Sun Jun 13 2004 - 11:15:22 EDT

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