The Sundance documentary "Clear Cut: The Story of
Philomath, Oregon" had a theater full of high school
students thinking about their world early Monday.
The film documents the conflict between the
Philomath School District and the Clemens Foundation,
which decided to stop providing scholarships for
Philomath High School graduates after conservative
foundation leaders decided the school district was
becoming too liberal.
"I thought a documentary would be boring, but this
brought up a lot of family values and the ideas
presented really applied to Utah a lot," said Matt
Damon, a senior at Box Elder High School in Brigham
Other students said the documentary draws attention
to differing political ideologies.
"There is a big change coming to our society. Our
last two elections were so close, and there has been so
much arguing between liberals and conservatives that
the change could go either way," said Jeff Leach, a Box
Leach liked the documentary format.
"Documentaries take more time on topics that are
otherwise ignored," he said.
Students from Box Elder and American Fork high
schools attended the morning screening as part of the
Sundance Institute's High School Screening Program to
show students films they wouldn't normally see.
"We want to show you the different ways films can
be used and the different messages films can send,"
said Sundance's Melinda Nebeker.
Several students, such as Box Elder senior Trista
Ross, had never seen a Sundance film.
"I loved the film. I thought it was cool. I want to
see more films from Sundance," she said.
That's what filmmaker Peter Richardson wanted to
hear. He also hopes high school students who see his
film realize they, too, can successfully make films.
Richardson, who graduated from Philomath High School in
1998, took two years to film 93 hours of interviews and
edit them down to his first feature-length film running
at 72 minutes.
He said the film was "relevant" to high schoolers.
"Schools can be the focal point for community angst
because parents feel so strongly about their children's
education. Any philosophical or ideological change in
the community begins in the schools," Richardson said.