Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Press



The Documentary about a Musical that Changed Thousands of Lives Performed by Two Philadelphia Schools for 30 Years

(Philadelphia, Pa – Friday, July 18, 2014) – On Tuesday, July 22nd, the Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) and the PFS Roxy Theater will premiere Henry Nevison’s new documentary “On the Other Side of the Fence”, an inspiring behind-the-scenes look at the making of a musical written by award-winning composer/playwright/music therapist Andrea Green and performed by school children as acting and singing partners from the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy (HMS) and Germantown Friends School (GFS). It is a Philadelphia story of a musical that changed thousands of lives over a 30-year period. The film is the highlighted in this month’s Filmadelphia at the Roxy local filmmaker series. There will be two screenings – 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. — at the PFS Theater at the Roxy, 2023 Sansom Street in Philadelphia. As there is limited seating, tickets need to be reserved in advance on the Philadelphia Film Society’s website: Admission is free.

Sharing his enthusiasm about the premiere of “On the Other Side of the Fence,” J. Andrew Greenblatt, executive director of PFS, said, “I am thrilled that PFS is able to partner on the premiere of On the Other Side of the Fence, and to be hosting this fantastic event as part of the Filmadelphia @ the Roxy series.” He continued, “I couldn’t think of a better film for us to present, as On the Other Side of the Fence so perfectly fits both the mandate of our series, to showcase strong films made by Philadelphia-filmmakers or featuring Philadelphia as a central setting, as well as our desire to educate, enrich and inform through film.”

“On the Other Side of the Fence” is a feature length documentary that traces the extraordinary development of relationships formed by the children of HMS School and GFS School. Nevison begins the documentary with the GFS and HMS students openly sharing their fear and trepidation about meeting their new acting partners. He follows them in rehearsals, where we see friendships grow and partner teams become true friends. The focus on partners such as Greg and Max, Piper and Emily, and Sean and Ezra, among others, shows how, in time, they learn how to communicate with each other, whether it’s with words, the use of an assistive technology device or a simple gaze. Cast member Max sums up the message, “Some people have a difference, but there’s always something good about you that other people don’t have.”

Nevison interviews teachers and parents associated with the schools and authorities like Dr. Dan Gottlieb, nationally recognized psychologist, author and media personality. Said Gottlieb, “This film illustrates so clearly that when “they” become “us”, lives change for the better. And what better way to teach, than through this kind of ‘musical’ approach where kids have fun, make good friends while learning about kindness and acceptance.”

Demonstrating the impact of the program, the film features interviews with both GFS and HMS Alumni, including noted Broadway composer, Michael Friedman, who said “Everything I know about musicals, I know from On the Other Side of the Fence. What I learned in third grade is true. Everyone has limitations or disabilities. And you also learn what your abilities are and what other people’s special abilities are.”

Nevison shows the elation of the students, their parents and teachers when they stage the final production. He also interviews Andrea Green and her project partner and collaborator Teresa Maebori and shows archival clips of them launching this heart-warming project in the early 1980’s. The feature length documentary has been produced in collaboration with MiND TV and will air in Philadelphia in September, with national distribution to follow. It will have its international debut this summer in Estonia in Northern Europe.

Emmy Award nominated filmmaker Henry Nevison is a graduate of Temple University and has enjoyed a 30+ year career producing and directing award-winning programming for network television as well as non-profit and corporate clients.

Andrea Green is an award-winning composer/playwright whose musicals are performed throughout the world. Several of her shows are published by Samuel French, Inc and have been presented at the Disney World National Performing Arts Festival, New York Musical Theater Festival, The Walnut Street Theater and many theaters throughout the country. She continues to work as a music therapist. She is a lifelong Philadelphia area resident who received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from the U. of Miami and Master’s degree in Creative Arts in Therapy from Hahnemann University.

HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy serves children through age 21 who have complex, multiple disabilities usually resulting from cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or other neurological impairment. HMS’s state-of-the-art special education and therapy programs maximize each child’s abilities and help prepare them for a full, active life engaged in their community. HMS specializes in state-of-the-art assistive technology that expands youngsters’ access to the world, harnessing every form of assistive device to maximize students’ independence. Learn more about HMS at

MiND: Media Independence is an innovative public media organization with a 25-year history of programs about equality, social issues for an enlightened community.

Filmadelphia at the Roxy is a monthly film series at the PFS Roxy Theater that provides an avenue for local filmmakers of all ages, levels and backgrounds to showcase their work and elicit audience feedback. The Series serves as a vehicle to encourage and identify new talented filmmakers from throughout the region. Admission is free of charge in an effort to cultivate accessibility and community involvement. Each series is followed by a Q&A at the theater and post-screening happy hour at Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse to continue the conversation and celebrate the films.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation proudly supports Filmadelphia at the Roxy.

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Philadelphia Film Society is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization with a mission to utilize film’s unique capacity to engage a broad cross-section of the  community, while further providing access to powerful films from around  the world in order to increase education and understanding.  It does so  by annually producing a top-tier film festival featuring the best of American and International cinema, programming the PFS Theater at the Roxy,  thereby providing daily access to films and experiences from which the  Philadelphia community can be further engaged and educated, as well as  by offering unique and varied screenings and events throughout the year  that furthers the awareness of film as an important form of artistic expression and instrument of cultural change. For more information, visit

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