JOHNSON CITY (April 4, 2013) – The Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at East Tennessee State University will present “Follow the Leader,” a political coming-of-age film, Monday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium.
The film’s director, producer, cameraman and editor Jonathan Goodman Levitt will be present for the event and will lead the audience in a discussion at the conclusion of the film. A reception will follow.
The screening is part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers and is the final installment of the Martin School’s 2012-13 series of South Arts independent films.
“Follow the Leader” is Levitt’s first film made in the U.S., after a decade of working as a filmmaker in London. “A journey of political and personal discovery, the film promises to spark meaningful and reflective conversations about American political realities in the months surrounding the 2012 U.S. Presidential election,” says Brian Geldin of The Film Panel Notetaker.
Levitt said he worked very hard to make the documentary fair and unbiased. “Documentaries’ natural audience is typically a liberal audience, and hopefully the documentary will reach that audience,” Levitt told Geldin in the Christian Science Monitor. “But for conservatives, there aren’t many films in which they can see themselves portrayed in a fair-minded way. Our film portrays all political views in a fair-minded way.
“I feel like the film is really unique and that it will appeal to people regardless of they believe, and that it will force many people to question their own beliefs. Because of that, we have the opportunity to bring people together to talk about issues in a way that doesn’t happen often in our public sphere.”
Americans need to have better discussions regarding politics and leadership issues, the filmmaker says. “So my approach to provoking discussion and change is quite different …” he told Geldin. “A lot of people think documentaries are about understanding where people are coming from, whether they agree with the film participants’ attitudes or not. But there’s a political correctness among many decision-makers that reflects the politics of our country that we need to get past. We need to take a step back and think about how we have these discussions even on a very basic level – rather than either getting angry or otherwise pussy-footing around the realities.”
Levitt’s work as director and producer has been shown by European broadcast outlets, including BBC, Channel 4, Arte, DR and SVT. Levitt’s company, Changeworx USA LLC, also has films in production with international partners in Pakistan and Chile, and has received support from Tribeca Film Institute, Center for Asian American media and IFP. His previous feature “Sunny Intervals and Showers” screened at film festivals including Sheffield, Chicago and One World and aired on the BBC “Storyville” documentary strand.
Levitt studied psychology, political philosophy and studio art at Stanford University and was a Fulbright scholar studying at the United Kingdom’s National Film School in 1999.
“When I was a college student in Texas, we actually didn’t have student government but there was a lot of political activity and interest on campus,” says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis. “Now, interest in our city, state and national governments doesn’t seem to be as significant to students. This documentary can perhaps draw attention to the many ways government and what’s going on politically impact our daily lives.”
For more information on “Follow the Leader,” visit www.followtheleaderfilm.com.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South's unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.
For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts or the film series, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts. “Like” ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Facebook and Follow it on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU.