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Ask the Filmmakers

Rose Rosenblatt and Marion Lipschutz answer viewers' questions about making social-issue documentaries, the challenges of representing the people in the film, and more.

Sarah in North Carolina asks: How did you become involved in making films that broach such controversial topics? And how have you been able to continue?

Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt

Rose Rosenblatt and Marion Lipschutz

Rose Rosenblatt and Marion Lipschutz: We often come across a fact that makes us come up short, for example, with The Education of Shelby Knox, the fact that the Federal Government is funding abstinence until marriage sex education. Then, we raise money to do a film. The first money in is usually from foundations. Once we have a rough cut, we use it to raise more money! The hardest is getting the first grants.

Michelle in Michigan asks: What do you think is the best way to address the stigma surrounding herpes and genital warts, both of which are rapidly increasing in the teen population? I hear comedians make jokes about herpes who would get filleted if they tried to make those same jokes about AIDS.

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: The best way to address the stigma you describe is through open discussion of the facts surrounding herpes and genital warts. Comedians probably joke about these STD’s, but not about AIDS, because AIDS can kill you.

Debbie in California asks: What was on Paula Knox's sign (marching behind her daughter) at the end of the film?

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: Paula's sign says, "Judge not, lest you be judged."

Eldon asks: I was captivated by the quote right at the beginning of the film but had no chance to write it down. Could you send me a copy of that entire quote? Thanks for a great visual commentary on American culture. I'm still sorting out my emotional responses.

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: It's attributed to Butch Hancock of the Flatlanders and says:

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."

Mimi in Illinois asks: As filmmakers, did you have difficulty listening and remaining objective to many of the ideas and beliefs expressed? I found myself shouting at the television and wondered if you ever had that urge from behind the camera?

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: Usually we're too happy knowing that we're getting great material to have that urge.

Robert in Pennsylvania asks: Why did the filmmakers not present a more moderate Christian view of sexuality?

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: We didn't present a more moderate Christian view because that's not what Ed Ainsworth was teaching, and Ed was Shelby's counterpart in the film. If her counterpart had been more moderate, that would have been in the film.

Kathy in North Carolina asks: The first thing I thought of in watching was, how was this program edited? You can promote any agenda, and put any contrary side in a bad light, no matter what political persuasion. From what was shown of the pastor counseling Shelby, she received poor council. But then, the filmmakers wouldn't want a good intelligent, cogent response to be shown from one of those "intolerant" Christians. So I suspect a lot of the pastors remarks were edited.

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: Actually, the pastor's remarks were no more edited than those of others in the film, and we believe they are very close to his intent. We've heard from people who deeply disagree with Shelby's point of view, agree with Ed, and think his counsel is not poor, just at odds with Shelby. Ed does not believe in the type of sex education Shelby is advocating, nor with Shelby's interpretation of Christianity.

Jim in Massachusetts asks: You mentioned in your interview that Shelby was able to make the connection between the issues of gay rights and sex education. I would really like to know what she sees this connection to be. I am a high school teacher and this sort of insight would be helpful in a variety of ways.

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: The connection is that abstinence until marriage doesn't address the needs of kids who can't get married, i.e. gay kids. It assumes a heterosexual, monogamous union as the only place for sex. Comprehensive sex education addresses the needs of all kids, gay and straight.

Kate in New York asks: What will be the topic of your next documentary?

Rosenblatt and Lipschutz: We're looking around, and we welcome anyone to contact us at info@incite-pictures.com with great human interest stories that make important issues come alive.





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What an intelligent, articulate, dedicated kid! Congratulations to her for working so hard & speaking out so forcefully on her issue, especially when so many people were trying to squelch her. I can't wait to see what she tackles next - it's people like her who make a difference in this world.”

— Jeanette, Milwaukee, WI

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