‘Judy Blume Forever’ Directors on the Author’s Legacy: ‘Books That Get Censored Are the Books People Are Afraid Of’ (Video)

Sundance 2023: “Judy Blume will always be relevant because she taught us to understand ourselves,” Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok told TheWrap

Fifty years after Judy Blume took the young adult literary scene by storm, the author is having a renaissance year. As the first-ever adaptation of “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” heads to theaters, fans will get a glimpse at the writer herself in the documentary “Judy Blume Forever.”

On the eve of the film’s Sundance premiere, co-directors and producers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok checked in with TheWrap’s Portrait and Video Studio at The Music Lodge.

Pardo was on a road trip, listening to Blume’s audiobook reading of “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” when the idea began to take shape.

“This amazing magical effervescent voice fills the car, and I started thinking about Judy Blume as a person, who was the woman behind these characters that I grew up loving so much,” Pardo recalled to Sharon Waxman, CEO and Editor in Chief of TheWrap.

Driven by “filmmakers’ curiosity,” they got to work learning about Blume’s biography and rediscovering what made the author so ahead of her time.

“Judy Blume is a fearless author who has taught us all about ourselves, about our bodies, about understanding our complicated friendships and our relationships to our parents, and to our lovers and to our own sexuality and those things never change,” Wolchok said. “Judy Blume will always be relevant because she taught us to understand ourselves. She saw us and she will continue to see us.”

What audiences may not know, and which the pair learned in the process of making the film, is that Blume was also a “fierce activist and advocate” for free speech.

Blume’s honest exploration of then-taboo subjects like teenage sexuality, puberty and bullying resulted in several of her books being banned across multiple states. Just last year, her 1975 novel “Forever” was banned by a Utah school district.

“People weren’t ready for that. They were afraid of girls understanding their bodies and boys, too, appreciating girls’ bodies,” Polchok explained.

Pardo added that the themes and messages of Blume’s works are just as salient today as they were when they were first published.

“The fundamental feelings that kids experience – ‘Do I fit in?’ ‘Am I normal?’ ‘What’s going on with my body?’ – that’s universal, even if you’re coming at it from a different perspective than you might have been 40, 50 years ago.”

“Judy Blume Forever” is available April 21 on Prime Video. Watch the full interview above.

TheWrap’s Portrait and Video Studio at The Music Lodge during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by NFP along with support from Sylvania and HigherDOSE