Director Sheila Nevins’ Oscar nominated short is an Important film and one that provides a scathing indictment of the American Education system and our head on collision with fascism and anti-intellectualism across the board. With the rise of smaller special interest groups, the idea of book banning has become a niche topic for aspiring politicians seeking power, thus creating a maelstrom of controversy. Rather than comment on the entire absurdity herself, director Nevins hands the platform over to a group of prepubescent children.
What’s refreshing is that these children aren’t just mature, but they’re absolutely intelligent. They view learning about other cultures and lifestyles as an opportunity rather than sinister. Every child that sits down with the camera is treated to one of the books that have been banned, and they offer up their own unbiased commentary. So much of it is to prove that children understand what they approve and don’t approve of, and any notion that they can be “groomed” is nothing more than an effort to demonize the whole concept of learning.
Rather than nurture ignorance, we really should be encouraging explorations of all kinds, and the sheer concept of banning even one book is a disservice to our children. Nevins juxtaposes the interviews with a speech by one hundred year old Grace Linn who staggers in to a meeting with her town hall in Florida to use what strength she has to stress the dangers of banning books and how it’s one step further in to a horrifying direction for America. Let’s hope her husband’s dedication to fighting for us in the war didn’t amount to nothing.