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Awesome Essays: Chekhov For Children

A couple of weeks ago we watched a film called Chekhov For Children in my essay film class. Out of everything we've watched so far this semester it is probably my favorite film. The actual film is 74 minutes long and difficult to get ahold of because it's an essay film and not something you would see in a movie theater. If you're at the University of Iowa or in the area you should go see it at the Bijou Theater between December 10 and 14. Visit their website for more details on that screening. The film is about the director, Sasha Waters Freyer, and her experience in a New York public school where her class worked with Phillip Lopate (a god of essays) on a production of Anton Chekhov's play Uncle Vanya. Anyone who knows anything about Anton Chekhov realizes that a play by him is probably incredibly difficult for students in the fifth grade to put on. Lopate wrote an essay about this experience as well with the same title as the film.

While the film is about Sasha Waters Freyer, it is also not. She is rarely present in front of the camera and the majority of the film is interviews with other students who were involved with the production, interviews with Phillip Lopate, and video footage Freyer took in elementary school when she filmed the play. There are also videos the children made in elementary school during that time Lopate was present. It's amazing in the video to see these children working with really complex ideas and it shows just how aware kids really are of the world around them. There is also a sense of nostalgia for the time Freyer grew up but also a sense of pride for the people who came out of that production.

Since I obviously can't show you the entire film I thought I'd show you the trailer and a section of the film I find particularly essayistic, even though Freyer isn't speaking in it.

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Awesome Essays: Chekhov For Children + Video