Review by Saundra Sage
44 PAGES — a number that has always been and continues to this day, 70 plus years later, to be HIGHLIGHTS’ children magazine cover to cover, inclusive, total pages created every month. If you ever brought your child to a pediatrician or dentist while growing up, you surely saw the brightly colored animated cover sitting on the office table that your child just had to share with you. These offices were the impetus that propelled the magazine into the homes of so many, including the current subscription list of two million (2,000,000) homes.
The 97-minute documentary, 44 PAGES, Directed by Tony Shaff, was shown Tuesday, April 4, as a 2017 Sarasota Film Festival entry. The documentary focused on the nine month effort by the family-like staff from initiation through deliverance of HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 70th-year birthday edition.
Director Shaff begins his documentary filming the first staff editorial meeting held in preparation for the June, 2016, birthday edition. The filmed meeting allowed the audience a view of how ideas initiate, propagate, and ultimately are delegated to a staff member for further development. In addition to filming many editorial staff meetings, Shaff fills the screen with very close up personal conversational interviews featuring Highlights’ key editors, designers, and producers.
The staff was a joy to listen to and learn from as they all expressed deep love and gratefulness for their positions and opportunity to work in the family-owned business formed in 1946. The loudest message these passionate members expressed was their conviction that there is no greater asset in any society over and above a Child. The company motto is “helping kids become their best selves: curious, creative, caring and confident.”
Within that belief, they diligently work to deliver the Children of the world, since Highlights is internationally distributed, a magazine filled with animation, intellectually written stories, craft projects, letters from child readers, science experiments, recipes for children to create, and the most loved section. . . . “Hidden Pictures.”
Director Shaff held a short question and answer session at the end. All the audience comments and responses indicated that the documentary was well received and appreciated for the memories it conjured up in just about everyone there….as well as a warm-hearted feeling knowing that a company like Highlights with its caring, cohesive, objective-oriented staff still operates in America.
I gave it 5 stars…….
Click to download 2017 Sarasota Film Festival Official Guide (14 MB)
Following the creation of the 70th Anniversary issue, 44 PAGES constructs a portrait of the cultural phenomenon, Highlights Magazine, introducing the quirky people who diligently and passionate produce this publication – from the first editorial meeting to its delivering in homes nationwide. Family-owned since 1946, Highlights remains an American icon, revealing the rich, tragic history, the state of childhood, the impact of technology, and the journey of the publication for “the world’s most important people” – children.
Section: Main Slate
English Title: 44 PAGES
Category: Documentary Feature
Internal Film Info
Internal Category: Documentary Feature
Release Year: 2017
Runtime: 97 minutes
Type of Film: Documentary Feature
Production Country: USA
Original Language: English
Director: Tony Shaff
Produced By: Rebecca Green
Cinematography: John P. Campbell
Editing By: Amanda Hughes