April 18, 2016
Review for Paying the Price for Peace, the two hour documentary by Beau Monde Image about disabled Vietnam veteran and activist -- S. Brian Willson and the peace movement.
Brian Willson: Working on the Railroad
By Rebecca Gordon
September 4, 1987. A crowd of thousands turned out under a broiling sun at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, where three days earlier a U.S. Navy munitions train had rolled over Brian Willson, destroying both his legs. About fifty of us worked at the tracks with crowbars and wrenches. We hefted an arc of steel, and I saw it standing against the sky, bending, ever so slightly, toward justice. Next to us a cheerful brass quartet — visiting strikers from the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra — played “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”
As the new film Paying the Price for Peace demonstrates very well, Brian Willson had been working on that railroad for many years by then. The film charts his trajectory from a childhood in conservative upstate New York to the killing fields of Vietnam, to the dusty towns and green mountains of Central America. With admirable deftness, it helps viewers understand the consistent thread winding through Willson’s life and work, a commitment to tell the truth about this country’s wars, and to act to stop them. With a few scenes and well-placed clips of speeches by Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, even viewers too young to remember the wars those men oversaw will understand what drives Willson to this day. Indeed, he says, it’s that work that keeps him and many of his fellow veterans alive in the face of the horrors they’ve seen and done. “We stay clear of suicide,” he tells us, “by telling the truth.”
What makes Paying the Price so powerful is hearing the voices of so many veterans, women and men who know what war is and have had the courage to walk away. They invite us to remember – however much the national “security” state would like us to forget -- that every one of us can be brave. Courage (like cowardice) is a habit we can learn by practice. And there’s no better teacher than Brian Willson.
Rebecca Gordon teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of the books Letters from Nicaragua, Mainstreaming Torture, and American Nuremberg: The US Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes.
May 19, 2014
New Website and New Work
Last year was a wild ride with new work popping up from Al Jazeera to agencies to finally finishing a year long documentary project that took up most of my free time! More to come on that.
I completed a storytelling intensive Structuring a Three Act Documentary which gave form to the hour long feature documentary I had been working on for the past 12+ months.
Here is a synopsis by writer/producer Sharon Wood about the PBS-aired documentary, Walking in Two Worlds, from Beau Monde Image:
Worlds collide in the Tongass Forest, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act turns tribes into corporations and sparks a lengthy logging frenzy. A story of division and redemption plays out between a Tlingit brother and sister, showing the possibility of healing both the forest and the native community.