James Carville — an LSU graduate — appears during the opening scene and later on provides more insight about what happened at his beloved university.

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

If you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew that is (or has recently) attended a college or a university, or is even considering attending an institution of higher education, I recommend viewing the documentary that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival this year, Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt and Reform America’s Public Universities. The film written, directed and edited by Steve Mims is a great documentary about how state colleges and universities used to be funded, how the defunding began and how the price of admission to get an education skyrocketed to where it is today. If you have any interest in higher education for anyone, I highly recommend viewing this film.

This is especially informative in case you did not completely follow the stories about how so many of the leaders at institutions of higher education were losing their jobs after such long tenure. There came a time when the thinking shifted to where these institutions should be treated more like a business and individuals were to be viewed more as “consumers” of a product – an education. The filmmaker certainly does allow for various interviewees to share their views, whether for or against this trend. Some of the participants are James Carville, George Cohen, Gene Nichol, Peter Flawn, Larry Faulkner, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Hunter Rawlings and Noel Radomski.

If it sounds like too much information in one sitting, the 95 minute documentary has multiple views as noted above, various graphs and charts, plus some archival news footage that will likely bring back some memories about what has been happening at the local (Texas) and national educational institutions.

Mims does include references to two books that influenced the business world, including the term “disruptive innovation” from The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen and subsequently, former University of Texas business professor Jeff Sandefer created the book Seven Breakthrough Solutions. A huge change in the way things were being done on campuses was proposed by the latter — and his friend Governor Rick Perry was willing to help get it done.

The film opens in Austin on September 16th at the Violet Crown Cinema and will continue to have a theatrical release in additional cities across the nation.

Source: Violet Crown Films


Leave a comment