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Review: ‘The Test and the Art of Thinking’ Is About A) The SAT

From the New York Times:

“Mathematics, science, being able to use the English language: These tests don’t measure it and they don’t improve it — so why do they exist?” the president of Bard College says early in “The Test and the Art of Thinking,” a documentary about the SAT exam.

His sentiment is echoed throughout this insightful film as the director, Michael Arlen Davis, interviews dozens of exasperated students, academics and others who declare that the SAT (and the ACT) fail to accurately gauge potential, ability or creativity.

“It’s not a math test, it’s not a reading test, it’s a get-the-answer test,” says one private tutor. Together, those interviewed make a strong case against the exam and its administrator, the College Board. Yet even though they agree on the inadequacy, and even the harmfulness, of the test, few can avoid being involved with it.

Colleges, too, are shown to be stuck in a quandary: to rely less on the SAT could mean that the average score of admitted students falls. That would cause a college’s rankings to slip, which would hurt its ability to recruit students and raise money. More worrisome is evidence that high schools are caught in a cycle of their own, in which they gear curriculums toward test preparation rather than academics.

See the complete review here.

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An Aristocratic Look and a Powerhouse Personality

Mimi Wedell in “Hats Off”

Originally published in The New York Times
By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Published: March 28, 2008.

Widowed at 65 by a husband who left only unpaid bills and fond memories, the indomitable Ms. Weddell saw an opportunity to follow her passion. “I love illusion,” she says, describing an acting career that has paid her bills for almost three decades. From “Law & Order” to “Sex and the City,” from vampire movies to cheese commercials, this remarkable woman has compiled a résumé that defies the industry’s rampant ageism. And while her aristocratic looks and powerhouse personality — and an elegant way with a cigarette holder — have no doubt contributed to her success, so too has a willingness to work 14-hour days and fight for roles.

“Mimi’s driven,” says her son, Tom, who shares his mother’s East Side Manhattan apartment along with his sister, Sarah Dillon, and other family members. And as the filmmakers, Jyll Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis, strive to keep up with their subject’s punishing schedule of dance lessons, gym workouts, auditions and even a sightseeing trip to Florence, their movie seldom flags. For Ms. Weddell, standing still may be life’s only remaining terror.

HATS OFF

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Directed by Jyll Johnstone; edited by Kate Stilley Steiner and Bill Weber; music by Frankie Spellman and Stevie Buzzell; produced by Ms. Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis; released by Canobie Films and Abramorama. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. This film is not rated.

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Sir Ken Robinson Praises “Hats Off”

Sir Ken Robinson—the globally recognized expert and bestselling author on creativity and education—has included an extensive reference to our film Hats Off in his book, Finding Your Element.

He cites the film’s subject, Mimi Weddell, as the perfect example of someone who follows her own dreams even when they fly in the face of societal norms, and as a result happily finds her own “Element.” He references Hats Off as “the acclaimed documentary,” and quotes director Jyll Johnstone’s reflection of Mimi, “It’s amazing how she touched so many lives.” We are very excited to see such a great reference to the film, especially coming from a thought leader like Sir Ken Robinson; and we encourage everyone to check out Finding Your Element, and, if you haven’t seen Hats Off yet, to check that out as well.

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Capping a Career – New York Post Review of “Hats Off”

“Jyll Johnstone’s irresistible “Hats Off” documents Mimi Weddell, a Manhattanite who, at 93, has pretty much cornered the market playing elegant, very old ladies in movies, TV, commercials and print ads.” – Lou Lumenick, March 28, 2008

Read the full review in the New York Post

“Hats Off” also featured in the New York Post from March 30, 2008: