Part 4: Q&A
What kind of reactions have you gotten from audiences at screenings of The Camden 28? What are the inevitable questions that you’re asked?
Anthony Giacchino: The film recently played for two weeks at Cinema Village in New York City, and I managed to attend all 56 screenings â€” don’t worry, I wasn’t crazy enough to watch the film 56 times, I just showed up afterwards, sometimes with Camden 28 members, to talk with the audiences. When Camden 28 members were there, most of the questions centered on what could be done to stop the current war in Iraq or why there seemed to be less protest today than back during Vietnam. The audiences were also very interested to hear about the activists’ current relationships with the informer, Bob Hardy. Questions directed at me were usually about how I came to know the story, how I raised the money for the film and how I convinced those in the film to participate. (Anthony Giacchino answers these questions and more in POV’s Filmmaker Interview.)
Can you think of any memorable moments or incidents that made you rethink how you approached any aspects of the film?
Giacchino: Yes. I was contacted by the historical society of the courthouse where the Camden 28 went on trial. The society was interested in saving the history of famous trials that happened there. The Camden 28 trial was their first pick, and they got in touch with me because they knew I had interviewed many of the participants. I helped them organize the 2002 courtroom reunion and retrospective that appears in the film. Using the footage from the reunion meant that I would have to introduce the reunion in the middle of the 1973 narrative; at first I though the introduction might be distracting, but in the end it fit in nicely with the story.
The film touches on the parallels between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War obliquely, and some of the Camden 28 are still active in the peace movement. Did audiences at screenings pick up on the parallels?
Giacchino: Always. However, it’s important to know that the film wasn’t made to make a statement about the war in Iraq â€” remember, the project started in 1996 â€” it was made to tell the story of the Camden 28. There are shots at the end of the film showing some of the Camden 28 marching against the impending war in Iraq, but that was put into the film to show you that they, as individuals, are still active in protesting war, not to say that Iraq is Vietnam all over again. That being said, I wouldn’t deny that there are unspoken parallels â€” but that wasn’t planned; it’s simply because of how history has played out in the current war.
Has the experience of making The Camden 28 made you think about the current political situation any differently?
Giacchino: Sure. And in some ways, it connects to the previous question regarding parallels to Iraq. Put simply, I’m surprised that the current administration hasn’t learned from one of the fundamental lessons of Vietnam: There are limits to American power.
Can you tell us what you’re working on now, and whether you’ve been influenced by your work on The Camden 28?
Giacchino: I’ve been working on a film about the bombing of civilians during World War II. It’s interesting because the tagline to The Camden 28 is: “How far would you go to stop a war?” The current project turns that question around and basically asks: “How far did governments go to win a war?”