Belfast Film Festival

12th – 21st April 2018


Approaching the Elephant

Directed by Amanda Rose Wilder.

The inaugural year of the Teddy McArdle Free School, where all classes are voluntary and rules are voted on by adults and children...

Director Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alex Khost and 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. ‘Approaching the Elephant’ is a rare, inspired portrait of unfettered childhood.

The teachers struggle to create a learning environment that instills the values of democracy and critical thinking, but an ongoing clash between two students tests the limits of the system. Evoking both the immersive style of Frederick Wiseman and such fictional dystopias as Lord of the Flies.