Illinois Amish Politely Say “No”

Documentarian wants to find six teens for British TV series

Central Illinois' Amish community would rather a British filmmaker look elsewhere for subjects for a planned documentary TV series.

Toby Forrester-Paton, of Keo Films, is looking for Amish teens to be part of a series planned for a TV station in the United Kingdom contrasting Amish values with those of the outside world.  Specifically, he wants to talk with Amish teens going through Rumspringa (Pennsylvania Dutch for "running around").

In a 2002 documentary, director Lucy Walker took an up-close look at the rite of passage for many Amish teens.  In some sects teens are given a the opportunity to explore the customs of the outside "English" world (including alcohol, drugs and sex) before deciding whether to join the Amish church for life or leave the community.

The Arcola, Ill., Amish want nothing to do with Forrester-Paton's film project, but the British filmmaker says -- despite the objections -- he's committed to producing the TV series.

Amber Kauffman, of the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center in Arcola, says she's been called by a number of Amish people who would rather Forrester-Paton find his teens somewhere else. They suggest looking to larger Amish communities, such as those in Pennsylvania.

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