Entertainment » Movies

Thank You For Judging

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Jul 10, 2012
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Actor / Producer Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty") takes us inside the inspirational world of high school forensics (also known as "speech and debate") in the engaging documentary,"Thank You for Judging."

In these continued times of budget cuts to the fine arts in our schools, it is commendable to artists such as Urie (along with co-director Sean Fornara) to create works that direct our attention to the vast benefits these types of programs give to our young people. Urie, himself an active participant in Plano (TX) High School’s forensics club when he was in high school, uses his connections to feature the Texas Forensics Association’s annual competition as the backdrop for his film.

The students he follows throughout "TFA State" come from all cultures and economic statuses; wealthy, poor, Mexican, Caucasian, African-American, straight and gay. However, Urie deserves credit for making this film about the kids, and not about their issues; in essence accentuating the equality that the association shows in its procedures. Yes, the judging is subjective: some win, some lose, but all the kids are shown with positive attitudes towards not only their schoolmates, but also their challengers from the other schools, fostering the familial atmosphere for which students in the fine arts are known.

Also shown as the coaches, the caring teachers who give countless hours of their time to encourage admirable values and lifelong skills in their students. The results are vividly shown in the way by which these promising young present themselves, both in performance and off the stage. Interviews with the producers of the event, along with the parents of some of the participants add the adult perspective to the proceedings, but we ultimately focus on the students, whose effective speaking talents can potentially turn them into the leaders of tomorrow, whether in the arts or in business or politics.

As the coaches refer to their work as a "labor of love," so is it obvious that Urie feels the same about the film he has created.

"Thank You for Judging"
Michael Urie / Daryl Roth Entertainment
DVD format

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

This article is part of our "OutFest 2014" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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