When the students of Tennessee 's Whitwell Middle School began studying the Holocaust as a way to learn about intolerance and diversity, nobody could have predicted the results. In 2001, the Paper Clip Project culminated in a unique memorial that changed the lives of those who created it, as well as touching Holocaust survivors and countless communities. Because Norwegians invented the paper clip and used it as a symbol of solidarity against the Nazis, students started collecting them to help visualize such vast numbers of victims. As word spread online and in the media, paper clips poured in from around the world, 11 million of which are enshrined in an authentic German railcar standing in the schoolyard. "Patiently told and lovingly made" ( Variety ), this inspiring, award-winning documentary shows how even small-town students and educators can teach the world powerful lessons.
is an inspiring 2004 documentary about a consciousness-raising project that blossomed into something beautiful at a rural Tennessee school. When the principal of Whitwell Middle School sought a program that would teach diversity to a predominantly white, Protestant student body, the notion of focusing on the Holocaust--specifically Hitler's extermination of six million Jews--seemed like an obvious way to go. But understanding what "six million" looks like became a challenge. Thus was born the idea of collecting that number of paper clips at Whitwell as a visual reference.
But then it turned out paper clips actually have, in historical terms, symbolic value where the Holocaust is concerned. In this moving film, one sees Whitwell students dig into research on Germany's genocidal campaign, solicit clips from a variety of leaders and celebrities, and make a name for themselves on the national news. In time, the world comes to Whitwell's doorstep, via unsolicited donations of clips from people around the world, and in a tearful meeting of students and Holocaust survivors. The dimensions of the project, the lessons about prejudice and intolerance, are stunning to watch grow beyond anyone's wildest expectations. This is a great film for families and classrooms to watch together. --Tom Keogh