Monday, August 20, 2007

investigation of a flame

Intriguing companion piece to THE CAMDEN 28, which is forthcoming. This 2002 film is only 45 minutes, though, so as highly praised as it is, it's not something there's much chance of seeing. But you can order yourself a copy at the film's website.. I have a copy of the play that was made from the trial transcripts - "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" - which I thought of producing at Pacific Theatre in our early days, but set aside because of cast size. Now I wonder about a staged reading? Anyhow...

On May 17, 1968 nine Vietnam War protesters, led by brothers Philip and Daniel Berrigan, walked into a Catonsville, Maryland draft board office, grabbed hundreds of selective service records and burned them with homemade napalm. Investigation of a Flame is an intimate, experimental documentary film on the Catonsville Nine, this disparate band of resisters who chose to break the law in a defiant, poetic act of civil disobedience.

How did the photos, trial publicity and news of the two year prison sentences help to galvanize a disillusioned American public? Investigation of a Flame explores this politically and religiously motivated action of the 1960's in the context of a newly militarized America.

“INVESTIGATION OF A FLAME is a gorgeously crafted experimental documentary recounting the odyssey of the Catonsville Nine. Investigation's radical veneer belies the after-schoolish wholesomeness at its core, for the committed pacifism of its subjects exemplifies a venerable American tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience - the principled breaking of imperfect human laws in adherence with higher moral ones. There's little to add to the chorus of praise that followed MoMA's Documentary Fortnight screening of the film, but it's nonetheless a film to rave about, as well as reckon with.” Ionnnis Mookas, The Independent Film and Video Monthly

“One of the ten best films released in 2002” Phillip Lopate, Film Comment

Soul Food Movie footnote: Father Daniel Berrigan, one of the Catonsville Nine, appears in THE MISSION, on which he also served as an advisor. War and peace, passive resistance vs liberation theology...

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