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Anthem Film Review: ‘No Safe Spaces’ Redux and Grand Prize, Too

It sometimes takes a long time to perfect a film. Last year, the producers of No Safe Spaces brought it to the Anthem Film Festival to get feedback on their work-in-progress. This year, they were back at Anthem, part of FreedomFest which ran this year from July 17-20 at the Paris Resort Las Vegas, with a “95% done version.” But, as true creatives, they were still open to suggestions for improvements. Not many improvements will likely be needed, as the film won the Anthem Grand Prize for director Justin Folk and producer Mark Joseph.

The Film

Receiving the Anthem Grand Prize (photo by FreedomFest)

On the surface No Safe Spaces argues against the political correctness movement which has blocked unpopular political speech and even comedy on college campuses (see another past Anthem film, Can We Take a Joke?). 

The film follows the unlikely duo of raucous shock-jock style podcaster Adam Carolla and Conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager, who devotes his free time to writing about the Bible. Not a pair you would imagine taking on a complex multi-year project together.

The unlikely team visits campuses and conducts interviews with a broad range of comedians and thinkers (oh, wait, comedians think, too). The interviewees span the political and social spectrum, in1cluding Tim Allen, Jordan Peterson, Van Jones, Alan Dershowitz, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, and Cornel West.

But the filmmakers had most of that last year. So, what’s new?

The Improvements

I don’t know whether all the improvements came from audience suggestions or the genius of the filmmakers, but, either way, the changes were amazing. There was, as to be expected, updated footage of anti-free speech activities on campuses and streets. The problem has not gone away. But beyond that the filmmakers added depth and humor in two different ways.

First, although it was already a theme last year that “there must be something to this argument if these two so different men agree,” the new version of the film took this to another level. Actors were hired to play Carolla and Prager at earlier, formative periods in their lives.

The audience sees a pre-teen Carolla growing up in a single parent household and are exposed to incidents that shaped his personality. The flashback for Prager involves the college-age young man sent to work in the totalitarian world of the Soviet Union. These segments, some dramatic and some comic, give the viewer a deeper understanding of the values that evolved in these two individuals.

The second improvement: cartoons!

This year’s version of the film adds original animations of Carolla and Prager and appropriate segments from South Park. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are Libertarians.) The South Park segments drove home important points and delighted the audience.

On Its Way

The producers expect to release the film this year, although they are still working on some fine tuning, and did receive additional suggestions from Anthem attendees.

Director Justin Folk, left, and producer Mark Joseph answer audience questions at FreedomFest (Photo by author)

After the screening, Producer Mark Joseph thanked the audience. “You gave us great feedback last year,” he said, “and we were making changes until last night. We are still going to add bookends of Dennis and Adam testifying before the Senate.”

A firm release date has not been set. Joseph explained his plan: “We’re going do a special event with the actors, similar to roll outs Dinesh D’Souza has done. The rollouts will start in one place and if it opens well then we’ll spread it to the rest of the country.”

You can watch a teaser for No Safe Spaces below and find out more about it at the film’s website.

Information on the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival, including a listing of all their films exists at their website and Facebook page.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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