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If You Build It (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 6 April 2013 (USA)
2:27 | Trailer

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Spend a year in the life of one of America's most innovative classrooms.


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Credited cast:
Erick Bowen ...
Rodecoe Dunlow ...
Kerron Hayes ...
Anthony Johnson ...
Matthew Miller ...
Stevie Mizelle ...
Cameron Perry ...
Emily Pilloton ...
Cj Robertson ...
Jamesha Thompson ...
Eric Wandmacher ...
Ron Wesson ...
Colin White ...
Alexia Williams ...
Chip Zullinger ...
Himself (as Dr. Chip Zullinger)


IF YOU BUILD IT follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what's possible. Written by Team IF YOU BUILD IT

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Not Rated


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Release Date:

6 April 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Studio H  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,949, 10 January 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,949, 10 January 2014
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User Reviews

A Documentary of Profound Hope
9 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

As our society catapults into the 21st Century, it's clear our educational system needs a new vision. The world is changing, and the kids in the classroom are changing, too. Our schools— largely—have yet to adapt to this reality.

But adaptation isn't simple. For big changes to happen—in schools or elsewhere—people need to see what "change" looks like. A model of "future education" must be formed as a prototype, and displayed for everyone to see.

Have you seen that model yet? Me neither.

"If You Build It" isn't that model, nor the answer to all educational problems. But it's an enormous step in the right direction. It's a film that leaves you with big ideas, profound hope, and a resurgence of optimism concerning America's creativity.

It's the story of a young couple who go to rural North Carolina with architectural degrees and teaching certificates. They establish a hands-on course for high school kids, teaching creative design alongside vocational skills. Each student designs projects they build themselves, learning not only technical skills, but the human skills of inventiveness and actualization.

The film may have flaws, but the blossoming ideas within are beautiful.

"If You Build It" feels like an important document. It's a thoroughly enjoyable journey into the quest for social progress. And it leaves you with an enthusiastic impression of what "future education" ought to resemble.

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