A cold rainy February weeknight in Annapolis Maryland is the setting for my next stop with Cafeteria Man. The elegantly refashioned high school that is the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts was surprisingly hopping with a multitude of activity. Theatre rehearsals, ballet classes, and studio artists meeting were all in effect, and I was pleased to find a screening room with about 40 really diverse folks gathered to see my film.
As a special treat, I was able to introduce and salute Sheila Kinkade, my dear friend and the film’s originator and producer who was present at the screening with a friend from Baltimore. The discussion was lively and very honest. Many people were moved by the film’s positive message amidst a subject filled with frustration and obstacles. Almost all of them wanted to speak, many weighing in on their own nostalgic take on school food. It occurred to me how the subject is familiar to almost every American, even if not in a dramatic way. And for people under 60, the memories and experiences of their cafeteria days range from dismal to horrific.
A nice little bonus was an eleven year old girl who proclaimed that she was currently making her own documentary on her school’s food situation which was her reason for attending the screening. There is some kind of developmental stage of adolescence where social activism and a desire to speak out emerge. If it’s guided a little it can be a great tool for awareness and reform. She was in that zone and really motivated to make things better. I think she inspired us all. It just reminds me again that problems in our society like school nutrition are not someone else’s to solve but our own.
This screening in particular and the series itself are valuable to me (or I think would be to any documentary filmmaker) in allowing a glimpse of how a film can genuinely contribute to a collective awareness and act as a call to action.
Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Richard Chisolm