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THE MEMORIAL DAY MASSACRE: Workers Killed, Film Buried
“So important. Another piece of forgotten history and lesson in the manipulation of truth.” –David Maraniss, author of bestsellers Path Lit by Lightning, biographies of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and other books.
“Excellent…this is Oscar-level stuff. There are amazing bits–the fact that they had gas masks at the ready, hired vigilantes, machine guns. And the notion of justifiable homicide. This is a brilliant documentarian of history.” — Rod Lurie, director of The Outpost, The Challenger and other movies
“A fine piece of work on American history, film history, and human history. Powerful indeed, on a subject that’s as timely as ever.” — David Sterritt, editor-in-chief, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, esteemed movie critic at The Christian Science Monitor for decades
“Riveting, moving, infuriating and ultimately inspiring. The combination of union organizing, police violence, and good media/bad media makes it very timely. “ — Nina Bernstein, longtime investigative reporter, The New York Times
“What a horrifying event, and so effectively chronicled in this film. You were right to tie it to the present day. I can’t believe we are back in the union-busting days.” — Sarah Kernochan, director of Academy Award winners Marjoe and Thoth, screenwriter for Sommersby, Impromptu, and other films
>>>A new documentary (coming in 2023) on the 1937 tragedy in Chicago when police shot and killed ten steel workers and their supporters–and the Paramount film cover-up that followed. Narrated by Josh Charles.
>>>Written and directed by Greg Mitchell and produced by Lyn Goldfarb, the team behind “The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair,” which aired over hundreds of PBS stations in October 2022. Editor: Rob Burgos. Associate Producer: Barbara Bedway. (29 minutes, USA)
“Excellent. You’re doing an outstanding job in reminding us of these incidents we forget.”– Oliver Stone
“Stunning. Rivetingly tells the story of one of the greatest human rights atrocities in U.S. history, and the success of the forces of democracy to defeat the attempt of the powers that be to hide it from the public.” — Rick Perlstein, bestselling author of Nixonland, Reaganland and other books.
“Astonishing footage–fascinating film!” — Geoffrey C. Ward, Emmy-winning writer of Ken Burns films, including The Civil War, The U.S. and the Holocaust, Jazz, The Roosevelts and The Vietnam War
“I had no idea of that history– the resonance for the here and now is loud and clear.” — Allison Russell, Birds of Chicago, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter
“Very instructive in the best sense of the word. I knew the outlines of the 1937 Republic Steel Massacre, but not the details and the twists and turns of Paramount. Also so valuable to have the voices of the strikers.”–Deborah Shaffer, director of The Wobblies and Academy Award-winning Witness to War and other films.
“The Paramount film footage is powerful, the narration is great. I absolutely love this. It needs to run on Memorial Day.” — Scott Horton, contributing editor, Harper’s magazine
“Really powerful, and I like the way you give it such a pointed contemporary relevance at the end. I’m amazed at the film and audio footage you are able to turn up. Kudos to all involved.”– Gary Krist, bestselling author of City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago and other books.
“An awesome film–and the hidden history behind it.” — David Beard, executive editor, National Geographic
The Memorial Day Massacre explores a largely forgotten episode in labor–and media–history, all the more vital today as union organizing catches fire in the United States after years of decline.
This is the first film in several decades devoted to the tragic events in Chicago in 1937, at the height of union activity across America, when police opened fire on striking steel workers and their supporters in an open field, killing ten (nearly all shot in the back as they fled). Press accounts generally accepted false police accounts that the unionists, allegedly But led by Communists and other radicals, attacked first and were “rioting.”
A cameraman for Paramount News was at the scene, however, and captured the truth on film. But Paramount then suppressed its newsreel devoted to the incident. When a famous reporter revealed the cover-up, a Congressional committee held hearings and screened the footage for the first time, inspiring national outrage. But the damage to the labor cause had already been done, slowing union organizing for years to come in the steel industry.
The Memorial Day Massacre, narrated by Josh Charles, tells this story via interviews with first-hand observers, graphic news photos and the airing of the shocking Paramount footage–never screened at this length previously–which is so historic it now resides in the National Film Registry.
It concludes with highlights of the recent surge in union organizing and victories–and why the 1937 tragedy matters today.