Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Student Body Chews The Fat With Lawmakers


“A tribute to student journalism and the power of investigative reporting.”
-Common Sense Media

Politically-Charged Film on Childhood Obesity Premieres October 5th in New York City

New York, NY – September 19, 2016 -  Acclaimed filmmakers Michael and Bailey Webber will be present for a special-event screening of their ground-breaking new documentary The Student Body. Winner of the 2016 Independent Spirit Award, The Student Body tackles the heated topic of childhood obesity and the efforts to solve this national epidemic. 

Hosted by The National Eating Disorders Association, The Student Body will screen on October 5th at the Regal E-Walk Theatre off Broadway where the award-winning father/daughter filmmaking team will participate in audience engagement while exploring issues of health, student activism, leadership, lawmaking, and other topics of importance to youth and adults around the country.

The Student Body follows the inspiring story of Bailey Webber, a brave high school student turned journalist who seeks justice for her peers.  In many states throughout the country, laws have been enacted requiring schools to send notification letters to students whose body mass index (BMI) do not fall within a narrowly “acceptable” range—essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.  The documentary illustrates how youth can use their own passion and voice to engage lawmakers in order to advocate change.  The Student Body will release in select theatres throughout the year.

Synopsis:  In an effort to address the obesity problem among American youth, lawmakers in dozens of states have passed controversial mandates forcing schools to perform BMI tests on students.  What soon followed sparked a heated national debate.  Coined the 'Fat Letters' by students, notification letters were sent to kids whose body mass did not fall within a narrowly acceptable range; essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.  When a determined sixth grader in Ohio voices her protest against the letters, student journalist Bailey Webber is inspired to take up her fight.  Convinced that her fellow students are being unfairly profiled and bullied by the government, Bailey's investigation soon turns into a battle of wills between herself and the bureaucrats who passed the law.  The Student Body is a true underdog story of two brave girls who take a stand against government intrusion and hypocrisy while exploring the complex and controversial truths of the childhood obesity debate.

About Bailey Webber Bailey Webber is a student investigative journalist, writer and co­director of The Student Body. Her story of courage and activism has been featured in numerous newspaper and online articles. She has been honored by the National Association of University Women for her advocacy work, is an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association as well as Proud to Be Me in which she has written several articles, blogs, and has participated in panel discussions. Bailey is also an up-and-coming public speaker and has appeared as a guest on several television and radio shows. Bailey is the daughter of Michael Webber, a motion picture producer and renowned documentary filmmaker. As such, she has grown up around movie making and has storytelling in her blood. The Student Body is her directorial debut.

About Michael Webber:  Michael Webber is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer/co­director of The Student Body. Webber has produced numerous theatrical films for studios such as 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Eventually applying his storytelling skills to non­fiction filmmaking, Webber would go on to produced/directed his “passion project” ­ the hit documentary The Elephant in the Living Room. The film was praised by critics as one of the best films of the year, winning 5 Best Documentary awards and opening as the #1 independent film in the US.  Michael has been guest on countless radio and television talk shows around the country, including appearances on The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and Nightline. He was
also the subject of an ABC 20/20 special by Emmy Award Winning journalist Jay Schradler.

The 411 by Maria:

This is a wonderful documentary by a students who decided to take action after "fat letters' were mailed to students from their schools. I loved watching Bailey's tenacity as she tries to interview the lawmakers who have justified the BMI Scale in schools as a way of profiling people. I found it so interesting that students are made to get on the scale in front of their classmates, weighed and then judged however when Bailey asked every adult she interviewed if they would get on the scale, all but two refused. The adults were offered the right to CHOOSE whether or not they wanted to. Only two agreed. This documentary for me proved that kids have voices, they can make a difference and while I know that this BMI Scale thing is a hot mess, it was great to hear so many professionals stating so. The scale is so narrow. My daughter is a gorgeous, 11 year old and according to her BMI she is overweight. She is nowhere near overweight and I dare some letter from school to tell her so.  

As someone who had an eating disorder when I was younger, I worry about kids hearing about weight so young. I have always made it be about how you feel. How making the right food choices is about being healthy and strong. Never about a number. I haven't weighed myself in over 25 years and it is the best thing I ever did for myself. Even through my pregnancies I asked my doctors to not mention weight unless I was at a dangerous level. I can't let it ever be about a number. 

Weight is a private thing and I would want to empower my children to be able to refuse the test. No one needs to tell an overweight person that they are overweight. They know it and see it daily. But when schools and the government decide they have jurisdiction over our weight there is a serious problem. I was happy to read that the Ohio lawmakers which is where Bailey's story takes placed ended mandated BMI testing in schools. 

Great documentary. It was riveting.

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