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Movie of the Day – Resolved

Posted on the 18 January 2013 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

Christ I am having flashbacks to my high school days of spending evening going through case files on Healthcare and WMD’s for debate.  This was my life for four years, plus a few in college, but hey, now us debaters (hold your masterdebater jokes till the comment section) have a documentary about their passion or skills if you consider debating to be a skill.  Honestly, this documentary is probably not for those that have an inherit fear of public speaking.

Resolved 1a

Filmmaker Greg Whiteley presents two sides of the current state of high-school debating in this documentary. Matt Andrews and Sam Iola are two students from Highland Park High in Texas who are stars of the school’s debating team. Highly rated in nationwide competition, Andrews and Iola are gifted practitioners of a debate style known as “the Flow” — rather than focusing on a few salient points and supporting them with strong oratory, “the Flow” depends on students amassing a huge amount of factual material and delivering it as quickly as possible, with the sheer bulk of data telling the tale. However, Andrews and Iola also come from a wealthy and well-funded school where they’re given the time and resources to collect the information necessary to make “the Flow” work. Meanwhile, Louis Blackwell and Richard Funches represent Long Beach, California’s Jordan High, where, with their coach Dave Wiltz, they’ve turned their back on “the Flow,” a system they believe rewards time, money, and rote memorization over genuine talent in presenting an argument. Coming from a primarily African-American high school in a low-income neighborhood, Blackwell and Funches show great linguistic skill and a knack for logical argument, but can their gifts for the fundamentals of debate pay off in a competitive atmosphere that’s been dominated by “the Flow” in recent decades? Resolved was screened as part of the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Resolved is a fascinating look at the structure and competitive nature of high school debate.  Instead of being about clearly and concisely presenting a few, strongly backed argumentative points, it has morphed into what has been known as “the Flow”.  “The Flow” is a style of fast talking debate which allows the speaker to overload the debate with a massive amount of argumentative points, small and somewhat concise, in rapid succession with only a few minutes given to the speech.  For people not in debate or have never taken debate, this documentary might fall on deaf ears with the rhetoric and speed of some of the shown debates.  For those like me, it will be music to your ears.

The documentary does a great job at showcasing the evolution of debate, from the more affluent students who know the craft of “the Flow” and the racial divide of those in the inner city as they have a strangle hold on the fundamentals.  It’s a weird divide to watch since I am one of those that can do and understand “the Flow”, but prefer a more traditional structure of debate.  The filmmakers did a fabulous job of being able to cover both aspects with two different teams who have embraced the old and new ways of debate, all the while offering outside insight from teachers and celebrities who have taken debate when they were high school students.

This is really a focused documentary on those that have taken debate or fascinated with the idea of young kids engaging in an intellectual, fast paced arguments that require incredible analytical and speaking skills.  Their is a passion amongst those in the documentary, which is wonderful cause that is why I engaged in debate programs.  This documentary does its job in presenting the elements of early debate while showing what it has now evolved into, a competition in which sometimes the fastest teams will be victorious and the smartest are rewarded as well.

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