Approaching the ElephantIn Attendance
Amanda Rose Wilder, subject Alex Khost
About the Film
Seeking an alternative to America’s troubled educational system, Alex, an idealistic young teacher, opens a small free school in Little Falls, New Jersey, where all classes are optional and determined by student interest, and the only rules that exist are democratically decided upon by both the teachers and the students. Director Amanda Rose Wilder immerses the viewer in this radical and fascinating experiment, chronicling the school’s tumultuous inaugural year. While wonderfully individuated children adapt to unprecedented freedom and must take responsibility for their own learning, Alex and his staff also must contend with the inevitable strong personalities that test the limits of their open community.
About the Director
Amanda Rose Wilder spent years writing poems, then in the hills of Vermont fell into filmmaking, which led to a B.A. thesis “The Poetic Documentary and the Documentary Poem,” for which she created poetic documentaries and studied the works of poets Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Gary Snyder and Jorie Graham as they relate to the documentary impulse found in poetry. Approaching the Elephant is her first feature. Wilder has shot as second camera alongside Albert Maysles for Maysles Films, Inc. features and commissioned works. She has written articles on filmmaking and transmedia for IFP, Filmmaker Magazine, and Nonfics.com. She lives in New York.