Although the documentary “Pandora’s Promise” has little to do with our film about school closings in Chicago, for me there was one large parallel. Pandora’s Promise has the immensely difficult task of changing people’s mindsets about nuclear energy—a task that became extraordinarily more difficult after the nuclear explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Knowing that the film was in favor of nuclear energy, I was surprised that during the beginning of the documentary, arguments against nuclear energy were explained—I almost thought that I was wrong and that the film might be anti-nuclear energy. But in my opinion, this was one of the strongest points of the film. I thought that by clearly laying out reasons why people would be against nuclear energy ultimately made the film’s pro-nuclear stance stronger, as I understood arguments on both sides of the debate by the time the film finished.
Pandora’s Promise was clearly a film with a certain agenda—a pro-nuclear energy one—but it still managed to present both sides of a complex argument in a way that left me as the viewer feeling more educated about the issue. Regardless of any preconceptions that I had about nuclear power, and regardless of whether or not I left the film “pro-nuclear”, I thought that by the end of the film, I could understand the perspective of the filmmakers and why they chose to make a film advocating in favor of nuclear power. I thought the film was an excellent example of representing the many facets of a debate and still making a clear point.
As we progress in our film, I think that it is worth remembering that explaining the “other side” (in our case, CPS’s point of view) is important for our viewers. Ideally, it would be great to have someone from CPS explaining why they are going forth with school closings and what they will gain from them (aside from the fiscal reasons they have already given). If we can’t get that, I’d like to keep working with Seth Lavin (who we have already interviewed), as he said he has many connections within the teaching community in Chicago and would be happy to put us in contact with people. This might be the best way to show the “CPS side” if we can’t get a response from CPS themselves.
Another strength of Pandora’s Promise was the evidentiary support used to explain why nuclear power was a positive thing, overcoming the stereotypes of nuclear energy as dangerous and hazardous. Something that I took away from this part of the documentary in relation to our own is that research and presenting factual information is critical to overcoming the preconceived notions about the South Side or Chicago’s school system that people will come into the film with. I think Brian and the passion of other students that we can interview at protests will be a good way of showing that students on the South Side are extremely passionate about their education and hopefully Brian’s story as it relates to Banneker can show us that the students and families impacted by these school closings do not meet the traditional, negative stereotypes about the “south side”.