New Videos

  • Waiting for Godot in San Quentin

    Waiting for Godot in San Quentin

    A fascinating version of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, produced by an all-inmate cast in San Quentin maximum-security prison. There are three additional works in The Beckett Project series produced by Global Village: What Where (1988/10 minutes), a video version of Beckett’s last play overseen by the playwright himself, Peephole Art: Beckett for Television (1992/38 minutes) featuring definitive versions of Beckett’s recent works written or adapted for television, and Waiting for Beckett (1994/86 minutes), a unique television documentary on the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett, which includes a rare scene with the playwright critiquing a video performance of one of his plays. Continue reading

  • Waiting for Beckett

    Waiting for Beckett

    WAITING FOR BECKETT profiles the life and work of Nobel prize-winning author and playwright Samuel Beckett, a writer who shunned publicity throughout his life, and yet became a worldwide cultural influence. More than five years in the making, the 1994 documentary is a blend of rare archival footage, performances of his work, interviews with friends and scholars, as well as excerpts from Beckett’s letters which provide an astonishing and often humorous insight into his personal opinions of his life and art. Co-produced and Directed by John Reilly and Melissa Shaw Smith, WAITING FOR BECKETT was undertaken with the blessing and guidance of Samuel Beckett, who died in 1989 at the age of 83. It depicts Beckett turning one of his last plays ‘What Where’ into a highly stylized video production. It stands as the only known footage of Beckett at work as he critiques the work-in-progress with collaborator John Reilly. It also features letters written by Beckett and excerpts across his body of work, voiced by Irish actor Chris O’Neil. Actors Steve Martin and Bill Irwin perform and discuss their personal response to Beckett’s work. Footage shows Burgess Meredith and Zero Mostel in the first production of ‘Waiting for Godot’ made for television, along with famous performances by Jack MacGowran, Patrick Magee, Billie Whitelaw, and Buster Keaton starring in one of his last film roles in 1964, the only screenplay written by Beckett, entitled FILM.

    Mary Manning, the only known surviving family friend who grew up with Beckett, recounts personal anecdotes of their childhood in Ireland. Never before recorded interviews with the villagers of Roussillon in the south of France recall the important but unknown period in Beckett’s life when, as a member of the French Resistance, he was forced to remain there in hiding. WAITING FOR BECKETT paints a portrait of a painfully shy man who devoted much of his life to his art, spending many impoverished years in Paris, receiving over 40 rejections for one of his early novels, before recognition slowly came his way. At the same time, we see a man who was a loyal friend, generous to a fault, full of good humor and always ready to share a bottle of whiskey over a long night’s conversation. Writer and critic S.E. Gontarski said of the documentary: “No one else has this sort of footage of Sam commenting on and working with his own play. Intercutting Sam’s comments with portions from ‘What Where’ makes for an extraordinary recreation of Sam at work. And seeing Sam alert and at work even in his advanced age is incredibly moving.” Robert Koehler of the Los Angeles Times said: WAITING FOR BECKETT is sure to stand as one of the lasting records of Samuel Beckett’s life and work.”

    Three additional works exist in The Beckett Project series: WHAT WHERE, PEEPHOLE ART: BECKETT FOR TELEVISION, and WAITING FOR GODOT IN SAN QUENTIN.
    Continue reading

  • Casting the First Stone

    Casting the First Stone

    Set against the background of the Supreme Court’s historic decisions on women’s reproductive rights, this documentary looks at the abortion controversy through the eyes of six women activists on both sides of the barricades in Paoli, PA. CASTING THE FIRST STONE focuses on six women who regularly confront each other from opposite sides of the picket line. Three believe that abortion should be an inalienable right. The other three believe it constitutes murder. Shelley Miller, director of a Paoli, PA women’s health clinic, endures constant harassment from anti-abortion groups camped outside the clinic’s doors. Joan Scalia, a Catholic and mother of six, defies her husband to join the most audacious of these anti-abortion groups called Operation Rescue. Sharon Owens, a clinic counselor, minister’s wife and adoptive mother of three, is closer to the middle. She cannot decide when human life “begins,” but feels a religious obligation as a Christian “to be in the place where hard decisions are being made.” Chronicling the daily lives of these and other women, director Julie Gustafson visits anti-abortion blockades, counseling sessions, a visit with a young mother whom protestors persuaded to have her baby, and Planned Parenthood’s emergency board meetings following the Supreme Court’s 1989 Webster v. Missouri decision that allowed states to deny some of the protections set by Roe v. Wade. Appearances include Randall Terry of Operation Rescue, Bill Baird, a longtime pro-choice activist and Faye Wattleton of Planned Parenthood.

    CASTING THE FIRST STONE makes clear that the conflict over abortion is not just political but also about the role and the rights of women in society. Clinic counselors, shaped by first wave feminist activism of the 1960s and 70s argue they are not promoting abortion but are “providing women with choices.” Other pro-life women reply, “You know what offends me about feminists? They say they are speaking for me.” Continue reading

  • The Trial of the Avco Plowshares

    The Trial of the Avco Plowshares

    In July 1983, seven United States citizens entered AVCO Systems Division, a manufacturing plant for MX and Pershing II missiles in Wilmington, Massachusetts. They threw blood on blueprints and computers to protest the buildup of nuclear arms. AVCO PLOWSHARES documents the ensuring trial, which includes dramatic testimony on civil disobedience and the question if a greater moral imperative exists beyond the letter of the law. Acting on their own behalf, the defendants argued “the justification defense” to claim their duty as citizens to warn of impending nuclear threats. Jean Hollady, a nurse and mother of four, asks those in the courtroom to picture the threat of one MX missile, containing ten warheads, representing “the equivalent of 260 Hiroshimas.” Frank Panopoulos, an anti-poverty worker, explains, “we were there so these weapons will not be made.” John Schuchardt, a former Marine and an attorney, ask the jury, “in light of weapons with the (equivalent power) of 335,000 pickup trucks full of TNT… please tell me what I could have done.” Expert witnesses and commentators from retired Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, Daniel Berrigan, and George Wald concur that because of anti-Soviet weapons in Europe, nuclear war could be “eight minutes away.” Howard Zinn says in defense, “creative, inventive, dedicated action is needed by Americans in this courtroom and everywhere else to prevent that risk to the world.”

    Despite permission to film this trial for broadcast, the presiding judge, Edward M. Viola, restricted distribution to educational venues after screening the work-in-progress. Continue reading

  • The Pursuit of Happiness

    The Pursuit of Happiness

    A video exploration of the Declaration of Independence’s most ambiguous “self-evident truth” through portraits of six people whose paths intersect at a maximum security prison in Pittsburgh, PA. Molly Rush is a mother of six and a member of the Plowshares Eight who faces jail for damaging nuclear missiles at a GE plant. Rush doesn’t “pursue happiness,” but finds meaning in acting against the threat of total annihilation. Her husband, Bill, an engineer and family man struggles to understand her apocalyptic fears and worries about their children. Molly visits a fellow activist in jail, Warden George Petsock, who opposes breaking the law for any reason. At home, Petsock dreams of retiring and purchasing a mobile home. His wife Ida May ponders the happiness she sacrificed in thirty years of supporting George’s career. Finally, two “lifers,” Ron Grimm, a Vietnam veteran, and Walter Henderson, an African American who works in the prison garden, contemplate the paradox of pursuing happiness while incarcerated and if that right was really meant for everybody.
    Continue reading

  • Home: A Documentary About Four Families (Part IV)

    Home: A Documentary About Four Families (Part IV)

    The fourth and final sequence of Julie Gustafson and John Reilly’s documentary HOME which portrays a young man who gives up his job to care for his terminally-ill mother in her home. He sums up a mejor theme of the video: “she has never turned her back on anybody, so why should I?” Co-produced by the Television Laboratory of WNET and aired on public television in 1979. Tom Shales of THE WASHINGTON POST wrote, “HOME has immediacy and impact possible with no other medium but television, and an inquisitive compassion that turns cold video images warm and real.” Originally shot in 3/4″ Color and B&W video. See HOME Parts1-3 on Media Burn at https://mediaburn.org/video/home-pt-1-of-2/ Continue reading

  • Home: A Documentary About Four Families (Parts I-III)

    Home: A Documentary About Four Families (Parts I-III)

    Through eloquent portrayals of four different life experiences—birth, aging, marriage, and the death of a parent—HOME explores the changing social dynamic of American families during the 20th century as many life events and roles begin to shift from homes to institutions. The tape opens with the birth of a baby, not in the sterile atmosphere of a hospital, but in a home-like clinic staffed by midwives. The second portrait focuses on a widow growing old in a nursing home, who is disappointed because her adult children have no time or room for her in their homes. The third celebrates the marriage of two divorcees that hope a traditional wedding will fortify their union. The final sequence portrays a young man who gives up his job to care for his terminally-ill mother in her home. He sums up a major theme of HOME: “she has never turned her back on anybody, so why should I?” Co-produced by the Television Laboratory of WNET and aired on public television in 1979. Critic Tom Shales of THE WASHINGTON POST said, “HOME has immediacy and impact possible with no other medium but television, and an inquisitive compassion that turns cold video images warm and real.” Originally shot in ¾” Color and B & W Video. See the final sequence, HOME Part 4 at https://mediaburn.org/video/home-pt-2-of-2/ Continue reading

  • Joe Albert’s Fox Hunt and Other Stories from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

    Joe Albert’s Fox Hunt and Other Stories from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

    In JOE ALBERT’S FOX HUNT, documentary team Julie Gustafson and John Reilly experiment with the short story form in a series of vignettes about the people and environmental issues facing the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the last remaining open wilderness between Washington, D.C. and New York City. Once considered a wasteland, the Pine Barrens have become a battleground of conflicting interests between developers, conservationists and longtime inhabitants. Colorful characters include the developer of Crestwood Village, a 6000 unit housing project aimed at urban dwellers seeking a piece of the American Dream; a small town mayor who believes in biblical stewardship of the pristine aquifer that underlies the area; and Joe Albert, a fox hunter and member of the “Pineconers,” a bluegrass group whose music descends from early English settlers. Albert laments, “I never thought it would go. I always thought it would be there. That’s what the Indians felt.” Completed in 1979 and aired in 1980 on public television stations in New York and New Jersey. Anne Wooster of the VILLAGE VOICE said, “Autobiography and politics intermingle in personal tales from the last wilderness in the Eastern Megalopolis…a complex and compelling orchestration of passions.” Continue reading

 
 
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