Telling the People’s History From the Cutting Room Floor

We strongly believe that camera original documentary footage (or “outtakes”) is the most significant untapped historical resource available today. It offers viewers the chance for an in-depth first person experience of past people, places, and events, as well as the potential to craft new stories.

In a unique collaboration between Media BurnSkidmore College, and documentary filmmakers Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, students were given the opportunity to be the first to review and use the 85 hours of source footage shot for the 2004 feature film Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train. The never-before-seen footage includes interviews with many of the 20th century’s most important activists and intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, David Dellinger, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Staughton Lynd, Studs Terkel, Alice Walker, as well as Zinn himself. Under the supervision of Professor Jordana Dym, students created short films that used the archival footage to tell new, untold stories.

Harnessing the power of archival footage as well as their own media, students were able to make connections across time and space to tell nuanced, fact-based stories that showcase how today’s struggles for social justice build on lived experience and enduring issues. We believe that looking backwards can provide tools and materials to support students, activists, and individuals move forward to counteract dominant narratives.

Join us a DPLAFest 2019 in Chicago on April 17 and 18 to hear directly about the project from Deb, Jordana, and Sara, or dive straight in to the students’ videos below. Learn more about the project here.

“Listening to Students: 1960s and Now” by Ari Bogom-Shanon
“Underneath the Flag” by Jamerly de la Cruz
“The Dining Car on the Moving Train” by Chris Cocchi
“The Rise of anti-Vietnam War in Civil Rights Movement” by Hongqiao “Ted” Li
“Radical History” by Sophia Eberhardt
“Howard Zinn and Patriotism: Protest in the United States” by Josh Karen

Explore the full Howard Zinn collection yourself at Media Burn.



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