The directors of ‘Judy Blume Forever’ say the beloved author is “furious” about the book ban

Acclaimed author Judy Blume is the subject of a Sundance documentary, Judy Blume Forever. (Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Judy Blume took a gamble earlier this year when she announced Kelly Fremon Craig’s upcoming film. Do You Exist God? It’s me, Margaret better than his first book of 1970 which has been required reading for many generations of young people. And filmmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok can confirm that the writer’s reaction is 100% real. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival – where their new documentary, Judy Blume Foreverhad its world premiere – the directors reveal that they were in the audience the first time Craig showed Blume’s film, who is now 84 years old.

“It was so much fun watching Judy watch the movie,” Wolchok says. “And we were so happy to be in the audience with all the people who made this and all her fans. We are very happy for her, because it is her baby! She held her baby for a long time, and now we’re all going to watch her baby on screen.”

The general audience will get to judge for themselves Do You Exist God? It’s me, Margaret It will hit theaters on April 28. And they will be able to prepare for the movie by watching it. Judy Blume Foreverwhich begins on Prime Video on April 21. Although the length of his books ensures that the author – who now owns a bookstore and works in Key West, Fla. – will remain in the public eye, these latest plans. it seems to be a step back in perspective eight years after the publication of his last book, In an unexpected eventin 2015. And there’s more Blume on the way: Netflix just announced that Mara Brock Akil is developing a streaming series based on one of the author’s most controversial books, Forever.

“I think the reason he decided to say, ‘Yes,’ is because he wants to see the product, and be there to enjoy it,” explains Pardo. “I don’t think it was a strategic decision to be forward-looking, but he realized he was in his 80s and had all these amazing people coming to him with interest. He want to be part of the process and see the results.”

Judy Blume Forever, meanwhile, is a chance for the author to tell the story of his life in his own words, starting with his honest descriptions of coming of age in the mysterious environment of ’50s-era suburbia. Although it’s a time and place that is often revered by some – especially the more socially conservative – Blume offers little insight into a world that has vanished. And Wolchok, for one, describes his candid commentary on the 1950s as “refreshing.”

“It really affected me, because my parents grew up at the same time, and I feel like there was a lot of pressure. [on women] to be a good girl — to smile and pretend everything is fine. I don’t think any of us were surprised when Judy talked about the 50s that way, because her whole career was about uncovering the secrets that adults were trying to hide. hide the children, and be honest about the experiences that the children have inside them. physically and in their friendship.”

That loyalty is reflected in the narratives based on adolescent sexuality that are prevalent in Blume’s novels, drawn from Margaret’s experiences as a teenager. Do You Exist God? to Tony’s wet dreams by Then Again, Maybe I Don’t to Katherine and Michael losing their virginity by Forever. Of course, those events also landed Blume on the list of America’s most banned authors, as vigilantes sought to pull her books from school library shelves. Of course, filmmakers realize that Forever it was one of 52 books that was nearly banned by a school board in Utah – where the Sundance Film Festival is held every January – last August, although the district eventually backed down that decision.

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 23: Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok of 'Judy Blume Forever' Attend The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village Cast Call at Sundance 2023 on January 23, 2023 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Corey Nickols/Getty Images for IMDb)

Judy Blume Forever directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Corey Nickols/Getty Images for IMDb)

Blume has never shied away from taking book ban supporters directly. Judy Blume Forever includes a memorable clip from his appearance on CNN’s Fire of fire in the 1980s, where he talked about the right-wing extremist, Pat Buchanan, who makes a show by criticizing the so-called “love” of youth sex. “We knew it was going to be a movie as soon as we saw it,” says Pardo. “We were just in awe of his passion and courage. He was able to meet her and take her seriously.”

Blume criticized America’s recent wave of book bans during a recent appearance on Today show, and Pardo and Wolchok confirmed that he was “angry” and the cycle began again. “He thought we were past that,” Wolchok says, noting that the author intends to sell banned books at his Key West bookstore. “We’re all angry that books are being banned – that they’re being taken off the shelves and kids can’t find themselves in a book just because some parent has a problem with it.”

“I think it goes hand in hand with what’s happening with reproductive rights,” Pardo adds, referring to the way the independent panel of the United States Supreme Court voted to overturn. Roe v. Wade last year. “It’s like ‘Here we go again!’ It’s never over, but it also feels like we’re fighting a battle that should have been over a long time ago.”

TODAY -- Photo: Judy Blume on Thursday, January 12, 2023 -- (Photo by: Helen Healey/NBC via Getty Images)

Blume during his recent appearance at Today show (Photo: Helen Healey/NBC via Getty Images)

In 97 minutes, Judy Blume Forever It doesn’t cover every title in Blume’s personal library, but the directors said they devoted one day of their shoot to a book-by-book discussion of 29 of his writings. In the 1971s Then Again, Maybe I Don’t it was one of those books that didn’t make the final decision, and it was especially difficult for Wolchok to leave it.

“I’m raising two boys, and the road [Tony] it’s about his fear of having a boner in front of the classroom [rang true],” she says: “As a mother, I was happy to be able to give them the book and talk to them about it.”

Another part of the argument Then Again, Maybe I Won’t What may not have aged well for progressive and sensitive readers is Tony’s savant attempt to play tom – using binoculars to watch his 16-year-old neighbor undress. But Pardo argues that it’s a small part of the book, and it’s been unfairly dismissed over the years.

“That’s not the most important part of the book: It’s actually a book about a troubled child, which was unusual for them at the time,” he says. “And the relationship that Tony feels with his grandmother is one of the best relationships that Judy has ever written. I was really pushing for the book to be more in the movie, but there was That’s how we can include it. He’s written 29 books! We had to find the ones that most closely fit his life story.”

Judy Blume Forever It will premiere on April 21 on Prime Video.

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