Ask the Filmmaker

Tom in Pennsylvania asks: It would be interesting to hear from some of Rafe's former students, both successful and not. Did you interview any of his students from the previous 20 years of classes?

Mel Stuart: Dear Tom, I did interview a few of Rafe's students. They were unanimous in stating the importance of Rafe's teaching methods in their lives. However, I decided to make this film a documentary solely about the present class.

Meredith in North Carolina asks: Please tell me how I can write the teacher behind this wonderful program and let him know all of the respect and admiration that I have for him.

Stuart: I think the easiest way to contact Rafe is to use his website.

Dayle in Washington asks: During the scene where the children become overwhelmed with emotion as they read about Huck Finn's decision whether to betray Jim, was it difficult to just keep filming? How do you keep your own emotions in check when filming something that is incredibly moving?

Stuart: Dear Dayle, After years of filming an incredible variety of scenes, including the assassination of Robert Kennedy, you reach a certain degree of detachment. I was as moved as you were when the children read Huck Finn but at the same time I realized that this was an incredible moment to preserve on film so I just kept on filming.

Judith asks: When you set out to film Rafe Esquith's role as an inner-city teacher, did you consider how it could be used to inspire other teachers, by informing school boards across the USA when it would be shown?

Stuart: Dear Judith, I think this is one of the most important films I have ever produced. I am doing my best to insure that Rafe's message goes out not only to school boards but to as many parent organizations as possible. I feel the film can make a very important difference in the lives of all Americans.