Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Student Body

The Student Body is a documentary by high school journalist, Bailey Webber, who, after experiencing students having a voice that will be listened to, seeks justice for her peers after learning of the experience of another student (Maddy Karimi). Together the 2 girls use their passion to engage lawmakers and health professionals to tackle the controversial "Fat Letters" being sent to students after government mandated BMI testing. Bailey and her award-winning filmmaker dad, Michael Webber, team together in this excellent documentary that was the well-deserved winner of the 2016 Independent Spirit Award.

The issue of childhood obesity was what sparked the controversy with government sponsored bills that sounded good on paper, but were actually intrusive and upsetting to student and their families. The reaction caused a backlash that negated the proposed benefit and did nothing to solve the original issue or the problems that followed. Children as young as 5 were told that they were fat, based soley on one testing method done at school. When a student in Ohio demands to be heard by the school board, Bailey Webber is inspired to champion the cause on behalf of Maddy and the other students affected. In a determined battle, Bailey sets out to make the bureaucrats realize the effect these letters were having on children and expose the hypocrisy of their own unwillingness to undergo the same treatment. Tp view trailer, 
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I will be honest. I did not expect to like this film and was wishing I had not agreed to view it. I really had not done more than glance at the subject matter (childhood obesity), so I thought it would be a dry little documentary/lecture. However, within minutes it captured my full attention. Very well made documentary that addressed so much more than expected. Bailey Webber's tenacity in getting a well rounded story with varying viewpoints actively engaged me as a viewer. I even found myself verbally responding to several answers as though I were along with her on this journey. I seldom get this caught up in a story; it may have been because this is reality, but I have gotten bored with 2 minute real-life videos. To keep my interest for 85 minutes is impressive.

Not only was it an excellent look at a very controversial subject, especially the government intrusion into the personal lives of children and their parents over matters that should be left up to a child's parents and healthcare providers, but she also brought in healthcare providers who were both in favor of and opposed to school and government sanctioned BMI (Body Mass Index) testing. Even with the lawmakers, there was the views of those who agreed, disagreed, and some who felt compelled because of potential backlash. Altogether a fascinating look at how something intended for good may actually create more problems. I expect to see much more from this skilled young filmmaker in the future. She has learned much from her father, but it is more than obvious that she has her own talent and ability to shine on her own as she shines the spotlight of truth in her documentary. Excellent film!

bsite: TheStudentBodyfilm.com

Disclaimer: I received a link to view this film from producer Elliot Wallach of Edify Media, but was not required to give a review. My thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

About Bailey Webber Bailey Webber is a student investigative journalist, writer and co­director of The Student Body. Her story of courage and activism has been featured in numerous newspaper and online articles. She has been honored by the National Association of University Women for her advocacy work, is an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association as well as Proud to Be Me in which she has written several articles, blogs, and has participated in panel discussions. Bailey is also an up-and-coming public speaker and has appeared as a guest on several television and radio shows. Bailey is the daughter of Michael Webber, a motion picture producer and renowned documentary filmmaker. As such, she has grown up around movie making and has storytelling in her blood. The Student Body is her directorial debut.

About Michael Webber:  Michael Webber is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer/co­director of The Student Body. Webber has produced numerous theatrical films for studios such as 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Eventually applying his storytelling skills to non­fiction filmmaking, Webber would go on to produced/directed his “passion project” ­ the hit documentary The Elephant in the Living Room. The film was praised by critics as one of the best films of the year, winning 5 Best Documentary awards and opening as the #1 independent film in the US.  Michael has been guest on countless radio and television talk shows around the country, including appearances on The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and Nightline. He was
also the subject of an ABC 20/20 special by Emmy Award Winning journalist Jay Schradler.


Heather Randall said...

What a great issue to cover. This sounds interesting. Great review.

Cindy Navarro said...

It really was a good film and covered everything much more thoroughly than I expected. Very thought provoking! Looks like it will be on DVD after it's theatrical run. I normally dread docs, but glad I agreed to watch this one. :)