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Play Again (New Edition)

What are the consequences of a childhood removed from nature? Six screen-addicted teens take their first wilderness adventure.

A printer-friendly version of this page 80 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Tonje Hessen Schei
Produced by Meg Merrill
Executive Producer: Lowan Stewart
Music: Sigur Rós, Kimya Dawson
Original Music: Andreas Hessen Schei
Editor: David Bee
Camera: James Klatt
Produced by Ground Productions

"Everyone should see this film!" Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
[Note: Community screenings of PLAY AGAIN can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: the original 80-minute version and a new 53-minute version.

One generation from now most people in the U.S. will have spent more time in the virtual world than in nature. New media technologies have improved our lives in countless ways. Information now appears with a click. Overseas friends are part of our daily lives. And even grandma loves Wii.

But what are we missing when we are behind screens? And how will this impact our children, our society, and eventually, our planet?

At a time when children play more behind screens than outside, PLAY AGAIN explores the changing balance between the virtual and natural worlds. Is our connection to nature disappearing down the digital rabbit hole?

This emotionally moving and humorous documentary follows six teenagers who, like the "average American child," spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens. PLAY AGAIN unplugs these teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure - no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.

Through the voices of children and leading experts including journalist Richard Louv, sociologist Juliet Schor, environmental writer Bill McKibben, educators Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, neuroscientist Gary Small, parks advocate Charles Jordan, and geneticist David Suzuki, PLAY AGAIN investigates the consequences of a childhood removed from nature and encourages action for a sustainable future.

Grade Level: 6-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2010     Copyright Date: 2010
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-973-9

"Play Again vividly demonstrates the damage that ungoverned electronic media is doing to children. By drawing kids away from the natural world and face-to-face contact with other people, excessive screen time is preventing them from learning the skills and dispositions required to interact with the real as opposed to virtual worlds."
Greg Smith, Professor of Teacher Education, Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Lewis and Clark College, Author, Place-Based Education: Learning to Be Where We Are

"It is a powerful film, revealing that we are allowing our young people to be so profoundly disconnected from the natural world and denying them the opportunity to fully develop their senses. How uplifting to see these young adults grow before our eyes under the nurturing and stimulating effects of their wilderness experience. We are left with the redeeming message that it is not too late! We can and must unplug our children, give them the access to the natural world that is so essential to their development, and restore childhood!"
Robin Mann, President, The Sierra Club

"A provocative film. Using the children's own words and experiences, Play Again makes a well articulated argument for the importance of providing children with opportunities for creative play in nature."
Bora Simmons, Director, National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, University of Oregon

"Play Again is a giant step in the movement for reintroducing children to the benefits of play and nature and alerting adults to the health, learning, and developmental consequences of their absence. Active play and work in nature builds brains and bodies and lays the experiential foundations for later learning."
Joe Frost, Professor Emeritus, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas, Author, A History of Children's Play and Play Environments: Toward a Contemporary Child Saving Movement

"The film tells its story effectively by letting children speak...The focus remains on contemporary children's experience in their own words...Play Again can serve as a compelling catalyst for discussion and action to limit both screen time and the commercialization of childhood and to increase children's free play outdoors and access to nature--not just through distant wilderness adventures but also through schoolyard gardens and nearby nature in neighborhoods."
Louise Chawla, University of Colorado, Children, Youth and Environments Journal

"Each of this young people is brought on a wilderness adventure--no electricity, cell phone coverage, video games or virtual reality. the result is a journey to discover just what is missing in our modern, technology saturated life; how can it be reacquired, and how can an appreciable, healthy balance between natural and digital worlds be found? Play Again is an excellent and thought-provoking evaluation of how to promote a biologically and spiritually sustainable future for the next generation."
The Midwest Book Review

"Exceptional...Fascinating viewing...Play Again is unique in that it makes a strong connection between excessive media viewing and environmental degradation in that media viewing increases consumption and consumption has damaging effects on the environment. The film is consistently compelling in both the story of the teenagers and the interviews with media experts."
Tom Ipri, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Educational Media Reviews Online

"A festival of wisdom!"
Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools

"Pose[s] a crucial question: Will children raised without contact with the natural world work to protect it?..demonstrates[s] the essential fact that the risks of raising a generation of children away from nature are much larger--for the young, society, and the planet--than those that await them in the great outdoors."
Sacha Vignieri, Science Magazine

"Instead of making a hysterical film about the loss of childhood, Schei's insightful interviews with education leaders and environmental thinkers like Juliet Schor and Bill McKibben offer perspective on how we can combat media overload and addictive technological behaviors in young people."
Brittany Shoot, Bitch Magazine

"I believe this is one of the great challenges facing us today. The consequences of our estrangement from nature will be devastating for us as individuals and for society. Well done and may your film have a big impact!"
David Suzuki, world-renowned Canadian science broadcaster, geneticist, and author, The Sacred Balance

"I watched a scary movie the other night...[The movie] asks the question, What are the consequences of a childhood removed from nature? Those consequences, both as lived out in real time by real teenagers and as played out into the future by experts, truly are frightening. The film powerfully brings viewers into the digital, commercially produced worlds increasingly inhabited by teenagers...[Play Again] makes a strong case for 'green time' instead of 'screen time.' Expert commentators and troubling statistics convincingly argue that while our children are learning to navigate a virtual world, they are losing crucial human connections to the natural world--and that these connections matter for them, for the health and well-being of society, and for the future of the planet."
Kristen Laine, Appalachian Mountain Club, Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog

"The film captures the helplessness of a generation hooked on virtual life, and the freedom the children taste when that cord is cut, even momentarily. Interspersed between the kids' adventures, we hear from an impressive lineup of leading experts on childhood play, the neurology of screen-play, wilderness education, nature deficit disorder and childhood creativity."
Tobin Hack, Portland Tribune

"I loved every minute of your film! We have so much work ahead of us, and our success depends on all of us being able to collaborate with a shared sense of mission and value."
Michael Mitrani, Earth Island Institute

"Watching your film was a pretty emotional experience for me. As an outdoor educator I've tried for years to explain why my work is so important. I've been wishing for a long time for a film that got to the root of these issues. A heartfelt thank you."
Zak Klein, Bay Area Wilderness Training

"We are thrilled to be able to screen Play Again...It looks at how we are raising the next generation to be involved or sadly, not involved, in the planet's struggles. By showing parents and other film goers the benefits of unplugging their kids, hopefully we will help hatch the next generation of Artivists."
Diaky Diaz, Founder, Executive Producer, Artivist Film Festival

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
SDH Captioning and chapter selection. Includes a new 53-minute version as well as the original 80-minute version.

Host a community screening
The film's website

Awards and Festivals
Best Educational Film, EkoFilm, Czech International Environmental Film Festival
Best of Fest, Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Audience Award, Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival
Golden Ace Award, Las Vegas Film Festival
Special Mention, FICMA, Barcelona Environmental Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film + Video Festival
Closing Night Film, EcoCinema, Israel
American Sociological Association's Annual Meeting Film/Video Screenings
Nominated for Best Documentary, Long Island International Film Expo
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Santa Cruz Film Festival
Bioneers Moving Image Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Artivist Film Festival
Rhode Island International Film Festival
Grand Rapids Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival Melbourne
United Nations Association Film Festival
Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival
EcoFocus Film Festival
EnviroFilm, Slovakia
Cincinnati International Film Festival
Film North, Huntsville International Film Festival
Duke City Doc Fest
Orlando Film Festival
Montana CINE International Film Festival
Red Rock Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
Pan African Film Festival
Hoboken International Film Festival
Salem Film Festival
Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival, Gainesville, FL
Amazing Earthfest
FilmAmbiente International Environmental Film Festival
Prescott Film Festival
Western Psychological Association Film Festival
One Earth Film Festival

American Studies
At-risk Youth
Child Development
Environmental Ethics
Guidance and Counseling
Outdoor Education
Social Psychology

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... more Reviews

"Thank you for making a film that inspires everyone, but judges no one."
A young biologist and gamer, Orem, Utah

"I approached my son's school board about using Play Again as the theme for next years' curriculum. Thank you for your curriculum ideas - it passed unanimously!"
Kirsten, Washington

"I cried through the whole film...Play Again is the leading edge of our time and gets to the crux of the issues."
Annie, high school teacher, San Francisco, CA

"Don't get me wrong, I love my virtual time...but I have to remember that the real connection has to come first. And foremost. And if I want connection with my kids down the road, that connection needs to be established first...I highly recommend every parent watch this film. And I recommend also that every teen and pre-teen watch it with them...It's a really insightful and informative film and I think it allows the viewer to form their own judgment--not about others but about themselves and their own behavior."
Slow Family Living

"This film powerfully illustrates what happens when children today are no longer going out into nature; it is shocking when even the image of a flower is no longer recognized!"
Her Royal Highness Princess Irene van Lippe-Biesterfeld of the Netherlands

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