Single: A Documentary Film (2008) by Richard Atkinson - Unsung Films

Stephanie Coontz, Co-Chair and Director of Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, University of Illinois at Chicago.

With Single here signifying whoever isn’t married rather than a person who has chosen a solitary lifestyle, Richard Atkinson and Jane Scandurra’s film has a much wider audience than its title may at first suggest. Exploring the striking recent demographic increase of single-led households, not only in the US but in the world, Single: A Documentary Film brings forward some interesting statistics, which then offers a number of interviewees the chance to explain, analyse and express a personal or professional opinion on. Real life people’s takes on these numbers are put alongside psychologists’ scientific explanations and scholars’ research and reflections –offering an all-round understanding of the phenomenon and encouraging everyone to contemplate the issue and approach it in a way which would reflect today’s society more efficiently.

Single: A Documentary Film (2008) by Richard Atkinson - Unsung Films

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Co-Director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

The common problem of people finding it difficult to meet that special someone, due to the fast pace, high standards, increased suspicion and limited social interaction within modern everyday life –is discussed more than adequately in Single. But the issue that takes a front seat concerns the steadily rising dismissal of the institution of marriage. Career choices and commitment fears work together with a now nearly established economic equality between the two sexes to allow very few good reasons as to why anyone should get married –making room for more alternative living arrangements such as sharing a flat, long-term dating or even enjoying an open and free relationship. Traditional values seem to be slowly replaced by a more liberal and success-driven mindset, while raising a family the old-fashioned way becomes rare, not to mention, in many cases less appealing to the modern day man and woman.

Single: A Documentary Film (2008) by Richard Atkinson - Unsung Films

Andrew Hacker, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Queens College in New York.

What makes Single so interesting to watch is how easy it becomes for every viewer to identify with the speakers, as well as to relate to the issue and immerse in the discussion. No one is left uninvolved as long as he or she lives in today’s world. What would certainly be extremely difficult for either of my grandmothers to comprehend, every single one of my friends would passionately defend –or at least be able to determine and justify the reasons behind. The variety of opinions here offers some refreshing insight as well. Although you can find the dynamic career women swearing by their single lifestyle, there are also the more traditional female speakers who cannot help but feel saddened by the fact that today’s society has made it so difficult for them to meet someone to marry and start a family with. In the same way, there are the men who wish to provide for their child-bearing wives as well as those who wouldn’t mind a more unconventional, free-love kind of settlement. In the end, it seems to be just as difficult for everyone to get what they want.

Single: A Documentary Film (2008) by Richard Atkinson - Unsung Films

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, Author, Speaker and Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Pittsburgh.

With everything having slowed down in that respect and now people choosing to stretch out their pre-commitment phase for as long as they possibly can, the opportunity of starting a family in the pre-forties becomes increasingly rare. This leads to more and more women opting to raise a child on their own, as well as men becoming comfortable in a responsibility-free lifestyle. Although such a major shift would normally cause concern for several reasons (and it seems to stress a large amount of people indeed), scientists and scholars appear to be more relaxed and optimistic than the rest of us for a change.

Single: A Documentary Film (2008) by Richard Atkinson - Unsung Films

Bruce Forester, Psychiatrist teaching at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

It seems that when all anxiety and insecurity is put to the side, logic and knowledge can shed significant light onto the phenomenon and firmly conclude whether this is indeed something to worry about. And it turns out, it isn’t. Filmmakers Richard Atkinson and Jane Scandurra lead the discussion in a way which allows for the issue to be thoroughly explored before the audience is reassured that marriage is still the number one trend despite the radical increase in single-led households –be that a good or a bad thing. However, Single efficiently proves that the world is slowly but steadily moving towards a less traditional family setting and a more independent and autonomous way of living –which comes with its pros and cons, as well as followers and enemies. Firing off a great discussion, as well as sparking further reflection on the issue, Single: A Documentary Film does just a great of a job in pointing out problems as it does in offering reassurance and boosting our confidence.

You can watch the trailer here:


Or you can watch the full documentary on Snag Films

Single: A Documentary Film official website
Single: A Documentary Film at IMDb