The Act of Reading (2019)
USA - 87 minutes
Directed by: Mark Blumberg
Associate Producer: Makena Buchanan
A retired high school English teacher is confronted by a former student who failed her class fifteen years prior. He then involves her in a feature-length presentation on Moby-Dick and the science of reading.
Fifteen years after failing his high school English class, Mark Blumberg set out to read the novel that sunk him as a teenager, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Discovering that he now loves the book, he decided to contact his former teacher to try and pick up where they left off, offering to create a belated book report in the form of a film dedicated to her. With the teacher’s blessing, he set out to discover as much as he can about Herman Melville and everything involved in reading and teaching his most famous work. A year later, he presented to her the feature-length documentary THE ACT OF READING.
Merging several storylines in a singular journey through the book, THE ACT OF READING attempts to explore and depict the very strange mental process that is reading literature and the role teachers play in it. We follow a Texas high school classroom, some living descendants of Herman Melville, and a unique assortment of scholars, scientists, and teachers as the sprawling project puts more and more of Mark’s personal life under scrutiny. By film’s end, the attempt at making a statement about Moby-Dick has instead become an earnest testament to the search for meaning, not just in Moby-Dick, but in the lives of its readers.