On April 22, former C28 defendant John Swinglish and Anthony Giacchino appeared on the internet radio program, MOVIE GEEKS UNITED! Host Jamey DuVall calls THE CAMDEN 28 "the year's most moving documentary."
To hear the interview:http://blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=21195
THE CAMDEN 28 has been chosen to air during P.O.V.ís 2007 season. From their website:
"P.O.V. (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. P.O.V. premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and innovative programs every year on PBS." For more information on THE CAMDEN 28 airing on P.O.V., visit:http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/camden28/preview.html
FIRST RUN FEATURES will distribute THE CAMDEN 28
"A pioneering, New York-based film company whose activities over the past 22 years have enriched independent filmmaking and distribution. First Run Features remains an important distributor of American independent films, significant foreign films, social-political documentaries, and films of all genres that appeal to increasingly visible minorities." - Museum of Modern Art
For more information on FIRST RUN FEATURES, as well as when they will place THE CAMDEN 28 in theaters around the country, visit:
FIRST RUN FEATURES will also distribute the DVD, which will be available later this year.
THE CAMDEN 28 will be screening at the Philadelphia Film Festival on:
Saturday, April 1 (International House,
7:00 pm) and Sunday, April 2 (Prince Music Theater, 12:15 pm). For theater locations and to buy tickets, please visit http://bside.phillyfests.com/?_view=_filmdetails&_template=phillyfests&filmId=310776& beginning March 13th, when the full festival program will be on-line.
For the Courier-Post
Anthony Giacchino's The Camden 28 probably won't draw angry protesters like Michael Moore's films usually do. But, in its own way, the documentary is strong stuff.
The invigorating film takes a look at a handful of Vietnam protesters who, following the lead of other peace demonstrators around the country, decided to break into the Camden draft board and destroy as many documents as they could get their hands on.
Checking in with the activists more than 30 years later, Giacchino finds people willing to put their actions on that hot August night under a microscope. The filmmaker talks with members of the group as well as law enforcement officers, attorneys, and, most movingly, the mother of one of "the Camden 28" who lost a son in Vietnam.
The Camden 28, which makes its world premiere at the 15th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival on April 1 (at International House) and April 2 (at the Prince Music Theater), epitomizes the feisty energy of many of the films screening at this year's bash.
If you're looking for safe entertainment, with predictable plots and easily digestible characters, look elsewhere. The Philadelphia Film Festival has an eye for the offbeat and unusual. Where else could you find a documentary (Hard Coal) about the plight of Pennsylvania coal miners next to a musical (20 Centimeters) about a narcoleptic pre-op transsexual? The festival kicks off Thursday and runs through April 11.
Arguably the strongest program in the Philadelphia Film Festival is the one devoted to documentaries. There are tributes to everyone from the members of a Seattle girls' basketball team (Heart of the Game) to a quartet of elderly tap-dancers (Been Rich All My Life).
You won't find a more timely movie in the festival than The Camden 28, which doesn't mention the war in Iraq, yet speaks volumes about the ongoing conflict. Edgewater Park native Anthony Giacchino came up with the idea for the film about 10 years ago when he became acquainted with Father Michael Doyle, who is the pastor at the Sacred Heart Church in Camden, where the Giacchino family worships.
Through Doyle, Giacchino got to know other members of the "Catholic Left" who were so committed to peace in the early '70s they were willing to put their livelihoods on the line to help stop the war.
"I think one of the reasons the movie works is that it's about how far people are willing to go to make a difference," says Giacchino, who graduated in 1988 from Holy Cross High School and now works as a producer for the History Channel. "These people were willing to follow through on their beliefs to an incredible degree."
Budgeted at $60,000, the film was a labor of love for Giacchino (whose brother Michael is a renowned composer who has written the scores for The Incredibles and the upcoming Mission: Impossible III.) Anthony financed The Camden 28 with his own money and resources he netted during fundraisers at local churches.
"The people of South Jersey really stepped up, and contributed a lot of money," reports Giacchino.
"I couldn't be happier that the film is going to be shown for the first time in Philadelphia. I really hope (audiences come away) thinking about the war in Iraq and how no protest is too insignificant."
Inquirer Staff Writer
It has been a nine-year labor of love for Anthony Giacchino, 36, and he was showing off the near-finished product.
His efforts got their first feedback Friday night: a standing ovation from an audience of about 500 who paid $28 apiece and jammed Gordon Theater at Rutgers University-Camden to see his new film, The Camden 28, about a group of Vietnam War protesters who were arrested and put on trial in the early 1970s.
"I thought it was very powerful," said Camden Councilman Angel Fuentes, adding that he would try to have the film shown in Camden schools.
"It wasn't just about Vietnam. It was about Camden, about encouraging the federal government to spend money on places like Camden rather than war," Fuentes said. He said the Camden 28 were not just protesting the war but also conditions in Camden - the result of spending billions on fighting instead of on saving inner-city children.
"What I got out of this was the need for grassroots people to take a stand... against social injustice, against poverty, inadequate housing and other problems," Fuentes said. "It really inspired me."
When he started out, Giacchino said, he did not know that another war, this one in Iraq, would produce striking parallels to the conditions that had fueled the Camden 28.
"Because of what is going on in the world, I think people will really be interested in the movie," the baby-faced Giacchino said in an interview before the presentation.
He previewed his unfinished documentary - he emphasized the word previewed, rather than premiered - before an audience that included a number of the so-called Catholic Left who had participated in Camden's version of the Boston Tea Party.
The Camden 28 is the first feature-length film as solo director for Giacchino, who has worked as a producer in television and documentary filmmaking, including freelance work for the History Channel, since 1994.
Giacchino, who has a double degree in history and German from Villanova University, earned a Fulbright for study in Germany and taught there after graduating in 1992. In February, he finished codirecting The Time Bomb, an exploration of how the 1945 bombing of Dresden is remembered in Germany today.
"The inspiration to make a documentary about the Camden 28 was born nine years ago," Giacchino said. "Dave Dougherty, a high school friend" - who later became the movie's cinematographer - "and I had been looking for a local historical subject that would make an interesting film. I had been encouraged by a family friend to hear the story of the Camden 28 from one of its participants, the Rev. Michael Doyle."
Doyle also happened to be pastor of the church to which the family drove 30 miles every Sunday - Sacred Heart in Camden. The year of the Camden 28 was 1971, a year when riots devastated what was one of the poorest cities in the nation.
Camden became a center of controversy after activists broke into the U.S. Postal Service building and the draft board's office inside, where they shredded records related to the military draft for two hours and stuffed other documents into bags.
But as they prepared to leave, they were swarmed by FBI agents, tipped off by someone they had considered one of their own. As they were arrested, the FBI was already tracking down 20 coconspirators.
Doyle, one of those who broke into the draft board office and was arrested, remains one of the region's most outspoken voices for the poor. At the Camden 28 trial, his eloquence helped sway the jury to acquit.
The unorthodox 1973 trial of the Camden 28 captured national headlines. The judge - Clarkson Fisher, now deceased - allowed defendants to represent themselves, one of many unusual latitudes he afforded. The judge also allowed witnesses to read poetry; play a Peter, Paul and Mary song; offer personal testimony; and juxtapose pictures of Vietnamese children burned by napalm with pictures of Camden on fire.
The 28 did not deny the charges, and the case was said to be the only one of its kind to end in acquittal despite no claim of innocence.
After nine years of work on weekends and spending close to $30,000, Giacchino and his coworkers are trying to raise another $30,000 to complete the film, which he thinks has important lessons.
As the controversy over misinformation regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has deepened, Giacchino said in the interview, "revelations about the Gulf of Tonkin, which [President Lyndon] Johnson based the whole war on," have come to light in a previously classified report accusing officials of distorting information on the attack.
Asked about a comparison with the work of Michael Moore, Giacchino said that while Moore's films are based on opinion, "this is a documentary."
"The movie has particular significance for a city like Camden," he said. "The government goes on military adventures like Iraq, spending billions, while cities like Camden are falling apart... . I hope it will rally people against war."
Contact staff writer Dwight Ott at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Philadelphia Inquirer
2005 All rights reserved.
August 6, 2004
Villanova grad producing 'Camden 28' documentary
By D.A. Barsotti
Catholic Star Herald
In August 1971 a group that referred to itself as “America's conscience” and became known as the “Camden 28” were in the news because of their radical protest of the Vietnam War.
All but two of the protesters were Catholic and one was a priest of the Diocese of Camden, Msgr. Michael Doyle, who has served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in South Camden for many years.
Their story is the subject of documentary film that is currently in production.
August 22, 1971
The story unfolded on Aug. 22, 1971, when the FBI arrested 20 anti-war activists who were in or near the draft board office in the city of Camden. When Attorney General John Mitchell publicized the indictments, a total of 28 men and women were facing major charges that could send them to federal prison. The charges against the group included “conspiracy to remove and destroy files from the draft board, FBI office, and the Army Intelligence office; destruction of government property and interfering with the Selective Service system.”
Throughout their trial, they articulated their convictions about the immorality of killing, even in war — and that the military draft was the “clearest symbol of that immorality because it compelled citizens to kill.”
“It was a fantastic story,” said Anthony Giacchino of the break-in, trial acquittal of the Camden 28.
Giacchino, a Villanova graduate, is the producer/director of the documentary, and David Dougherty, a Temple graduate, is the producer/director of photography.
Targeting Selective Service offices across the country was a relatively new tactic in 1971. The goal was to remove and destroy government draft records that identified young men available for military service.
The plot: In the cover of that August night, the group of friends from Camden, joined by other activists from Camden and from across the country, carried out their plan. For two hours, the group shredded records and confiscated documents from the draft board files.
The twist: There was a raid. FBI agents swarmed the building and arrested the activists. They were condemned as “criminals” and “threats to society.” They were imprisoned — and remained in jail for three weeks. In a statement released from jail, the group said “success is not in the number of files destroyed, escape or capture, but in the fact that our brothers and sisters catch the spark of resistance, and carry on the struggle.”
The trial: The trial lasted 63 days, from Feb. 5 to May 20 1973. The defendants, though pleading guilty to the charges, were not only acquitted but had also achieved a measured success — not in forcing the end to the draft but in igniting a dialogue.
In his opening statements at the trial, then-Father Doyle asked the jury to consider: “Who went too far? Did the military go to far by entering Vietnam and continuing the war for 12 years or more? Did the Camden 28 go too far in trying to stop it?”
Msgr. Doyle said he has no regrets about the stand he took then. While he advocated a more public and open protest, he stood with his friends as they prepared for the break-in.
“And I was grateful that we were caught,” he said. “I wanted to challenge the issue, to have people deal with the issue,” he said.
For the activists, there was no better visual aid for their anti-war message than Camden, explained Msgr. Doyle, adding that the city is still a victim of a war economy. While the government maintains a huge budget for military spending, there are no jobs, and no opportunities for Camden, he said.
“It is a Christian responsibility to resist war and war-making,” said Msgr. Doyle. To effect changes, Christians can choose to follow the non-violent teachings of Jesus Christ, he said.
“But does that really promote peace-making?” Doyle posed. Perhaps not, but it does create conversation about the issue, he said. “It’s important for people to engage in this conversation; it’s important to go back and look at the mistakes.”
Documenting a conviction
During the summer of 1997, Giacchino and Dougherty traveled across the country to meet with those who have become the cast of characters in their documentary. Investing their time and resources, they gathered 90 hours of material and interviews. The individual interviews reveal the emotional turmoil of friendship, betrayal, good intentions and frustration with the government.
“I was impressed with the level of commitment that they had, with the risk that they took to do this,” Giacchino said.
Giacchino discovered that the activists realized they couldn't stop a war but they believed that their actions would make a meaningful statement. The arrest proved that people were noticing, Giacchino said.
When asked why they would go to such lengths even though the chance of being caught was high, they echoed the same sentiments: They were tired of marching in protest, it didn't feel like that was enough, they wanted to go to a higher level.
In May 2002, the Camden 28 and other participants in the trial came together to the same courtroom where they were tried. They revisited the emotional series of events that brought attention to them, to the government’s tactics to thwart the antiwar movement, and to the plight of Camden.
The core group were ordinary people, Camden people, said Giacchino. “This has been a lifelong process for them,” Giacchino said. The struggle for peace, justice and human dignity was the driving force, and it is still relevant to them today, he said.
This documentary will illustrate their participation in that struggle, he said.
April 16, 2004
Award from Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association
On April 16, 2004, the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA) awarded "The Camden 28" an in-kind subsidy grant for post-production audio sweetening (mixing sound effects, music, etc) sessions. We will be doing the sessions in Philadelphia with Rodney Wittenberg of Melodyvison, Inc.
Camden 28 Radio Interview with Anthony Giacchino and John Swinglish
(WBAR 87.9 FM NYC)
April 09, 2003
Pledge of Resistance Action in Camden, 11 arrested
New Jersey Independent Media Center
In accordance with the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, today the South Jersey Affinity Group activated its plan of non-violent civil disobedience against war.
The event, which started with a march, ended with an act of civil disobedience, at the Federal Courthouse in Camden. 11 Peace activists put their bodies on the line to send a message that business as usual will not continue while the nation is at war.
The initial gathering began at New Visions community center, on Stevens Street in Camden. This site was chosen to draw attention to the fact that community services were being cut, while the military budget grow out of control.
After rallying up and getting ready, the march got underway with two speakers. Carol Riley, Director of New Visions and Laura Nicholas Sanchez, a social worker, each spoke about the affect that the war budget was having on their community. They asked a simple question, of why our country has the money to go to war, but not enough to guarantee medicine for senior citizens, or to rebuild our cities, like Camden.
At about 12:00, the march left, and headed down Broadway in Camden. The march met mostly positive reviews, and members of the march handed out bi-lingual flyers about the purpose of the march and what people could do to stop the war.
The next stop on the mach route was L3 Communications, a weapons contractor located in Camden. L3 is a joint project between Lockheed Martin and local colleges to develop technologies for war, and they stand to benefit a lot from this war.
At L3, Pastor Herz – Lane read from the play Major Barbara, by George Bernard Shaw. The part that was read talked about how the arms dealers are the ones that benefit from any war, and that war is a racket for these people to profit off of misery.
After this stop, the march proceeded to its final destination: the Federal Courthouse in Camden. Upon reaching the final destination, Monsignor Michael Doyle spoke about how Camden is the perfect example of what is wrong with America. He spoke about how the infrastructure and homes in Camden needed to be rebuilt, but instead money was spent on war.
He also told a story about talking with a little girl, in his congregation, after September 11th 2001, about whether she felt safe in Camden. She said yes, because if any terrorists ever flew over the city, they wouldn’t attack it because they would have thought it was already bombed.
Also, someone who lives across the street felt the need to show their support by hanging a banner from their apartment window, which is pictured below.
Finally, upon reaching the Courthouse, the group of about 40 marchers split into three groups: the supporters, the members of the affinity group, and those that had chosen to do civil disobedience.
When the time was right, the CD group took their banner, and proceeded to the steps of the courthouse, and sat down in front of it, while 4 other members also blocked the other access ramps to the building.
This continued for about a half hour, while supporters marched across the street, while others sang songs and played guitar. After about a half an hour, the police notified the member that they were in violation of the law and that they had 3 minutes to disperse. When they did not, they were each arrested, and taken to a police van.
Everyone cheered as the vans took them away, and the protest dispersed into a walk to the police station, to rally in support of the arrestees.
The day ended with a clear message to the federal government, one that is being repeated by everyone else that has signed the pledge of resistance. In a time of war, business as usual will not continue in this country. When the government shakes off the will of the people and the international community and goes to war, this decision will be met with non-violent civil disobedience.
To get involved with future
actions, please contact email@example.com
January 21, 2002
The Camden 28 - In The Beginning
The birth occurred at the end of a hot and tense week in late August, 1971. It started with an FBI ambush and arrest of 20 people in and around the Camden Draft Boards during the early morning hours of Sunday, August 22 and ended six days later with the issuing by a Federal Grand Jury of an indictment naming an additional 8 people. And so, the Camden 28 came to be but, as in all births, there was a prior moment in time when seeds were planted.
The FBI specified 28 but that wasn't the number at first count. In the beginning, there was just a small group of friends who had reached the same "crossroads of conscience" at the same moment in time.
For quite a few years, this small group of friends had been travelling the same roads, participating in Civil Rights demonstrations, anti-war rallies and peace marches. They had campaigned for political candidates whose programs were centered on the same concerns. They had all tried, as Robert Kennedy urged, to toss a pebble into the pond and cause the ripples that would create positive social change but it seemed as though their efforts were producing no results. It was as though no one was listening or even paying attention.
It could be said of this small group that they were all typical "middle-class" Americans leading comfortable "middle-class" lives. They did identify themselves as being in favor of Civil Rights, as being against the Viet Nam war, as being advocates of peace and justice by their participation in marches and demonstrations along with their political activities but, when the marches and demonstrations were over, they returned to their "middle-class" havens. There was little or no risk to their involvement and, consequently, little or no impact made by their statements. Their voices needed more volume...their statements needed more credence...it was time for action to back up their words.
They had been acutely aware of those who were already raising the levels of involvement...those who were risking their safety and freedom by their expressions of opposition to the war. Most prominent among these, to this small group, were the actions taken by the Resistance Community against the Selective Service System - the Draft Boards - the doors through which so many young lives were being propelled into war.
This, then, was their decision. To join that community of Resistance, to risk their own comfortable existence and freedom in the hopes of putting substance into their statements.
It began with that small group quite a few months before that hot week in August, 1971. It began with six friends who, together, decided that it was time to take that next step. And so these six friends, all connected to Camden in one way or another, chose a target...the Camden Draft Board...and, in that choice, planted the seeds.
Three of those six were to become part of the group that would be later identified as the Camden 28.
Mike Giocondo - A former Franciscan Brother who worked in Camden's Hispanic community and whose Camden apartment was conveniently located across the street from the Federal Building which housed the draft board offices.
Martha (Schmeley) Haley - A Camden resident and Social Worker
Gene Dixon - A Camden resident whose apartment was also conveniently located with a grand view of the east side of the Federal Building.
Three more people took part in that seed-planting. Their names did not appear on the indictment but they risked as much as any and are no less woven into the tapestry:
Phil Kelly - A Franciscan Brother who, along with Mike Giocondo, helped found El Centro, Camden's Spanish Community Center.
Father Joe Madden - A Catholic priest whose ministry was the Camden inner city and whose brother, Mel, was named on the Camden 28 indictment.
Marnie O'Dell - A suburban mother of two who, although she didn't actively participate in the action, came as close as any of the 28 to losing her freedom because of her belief in peace and her love for good friends. Marnie's participation was limited to attending a dinner during which she met most of the people who would later be identified as participants...and some who wouldn't.
After the arrests in August, a Federal Grand Jury was empanelled to formally prepare an indictment of the group. Several people were subpoenaed but only two actually were brought before the panel. In spite of the fact that the limit of her involvement was attending that one dinner with the group, Marnie was asked to testify against her friends and was told that she could go to prison if she refused.
Although she had no knowledge of the plans, Marnie, making her own statement of resistance, refused to cooperate. Fortunately, the prosecution decided to proceed without her testimony and she was excused but not before spending a few harrowing days with her freedom in the balance.
There was one other person who appeared before the Grand Jury. That person willingly testified against the Camden 28, providing much of the information that became the heart of the Government's charges. That person was also one of the people who met Marnie at that dinner...the one who politely asked her to "spell your name, because it is so unusual." That person was Bob Hardy.
In the beginning, there were 6 and
they grew to 10, to 15, to 28 and....the growth continues.
Do you want to read more about the Camden 28? If so, buy a copy of "Peace Warriors: The Story of the Camden 28," by Edward McGowan, C28 defendant.
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