“On the Other Side of the Fence” is an inspiring behind-the-scenes look at the process and production of a musical performed by school children as acting and singing partners from the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy (HMS) and Germantown Friends School (GFS) in Philadelphia. It is also the story of how music therapist Andrea Green created the musical ‘On the Other Side of the Fence’ to serve as the vehicle to bring these diverse groups of youngsters together in friendship and how this ‘musical’ framework was designed to encourage and support the participation of every child. Over a 30-year period this project changed thousands of lives and evolved into a model program including other musicals along with a well integrated educational teaching curriculum.
“On the Other Side of the Fence” is a story of hope for people throughout the world with messages of accepting differences, building community and embracing diversity. The film had its US premiere with the Philadelphia Film Society in July 2014 and broadcast premier on MiND-TV, Public Television in Philadelphia, in September 2014. Its International debut was in Tallin, Estonia and the film was subsequently featured at the European Union Sponsored International Music Therapy Day.
In the Spring of 2012, filmmaker Henry Nevison attended a rehearsal of the musical at HMS School. Nevison says, “I was overcome with both emotion and a passion: I wanted to tell the story of “On the Other Side of the Fence” for the world to see and hear. As a documentary filmmaker, I saw the opportunity to record transformative moments as they happened in the midst of a very special 30th anniversary performance. I loved seeing kids from very different worlds form close bonds, rehearsing for the musical together.” Rather than focusing on the final performance of the musical, Nevison follows the relationships that develop between the student pairs, with powerful interviews from current students, parents and alumni revealing the intense impact of the process. He dramatically weaves the songs of the musical with their meaningful messages into the telling of the story.
The film’s message has clearly struck a chord with audiences and the universal need for acceptance and diversity awareness. Since its broadcast premiere in Philadelphia, the team has had requests for screening “On the Other Side of the Fence” from across the country and around the globe, including Japan, Brazil, Australia, England and more. In January 2015, WXXI, Rochester Public Television, featured the film in their Dialogue on Disability. American Public Television will be making the film available to public television stations across the country. To learn when the film will be shown in your area, please see our contact page.