July 26, 2007

A Letter from the Filmmaker

The Camden 28 Opens Tommorow at NY's Cinema Village


Dear Friends,

In August of 1971, the FBI arrested a group of anti-war protesters involved in a break in at a draft board office in Camden, New Jersey.   The group's aim was to stop soldiers from going to Vietnam by destroying the draft files that compelled them to serve in the armed forces.  Apprehended on site in a clearly planned sting, the protesters included four Catholic priests, a Lutheran minister, and 23 others.  The men and women arrested that summer called themselves "America's conscience." The government called them the Camden 28.  What followed their arrest was an extraordinary, unorthodox trial that became a showcase for America's growing anti-war sentiment.  

In light of current debates over civil liberties and the questionable use of war as a means to promote democracy, the experiences of the Camden 28 provides an excellent springboard for dialogue and action. This film, while grounded in the history of the Vietnam War, is a must see for anyone concerned about the war in Iraq today, how we got into it and what it might take to get us out of it.  Viewers will be confronted with questions about the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy, the effectiveness of protest, government infiltration of dissident groups, the morality of war and what religious beliefs demands of adherents.

The film also highlights what was then called the "Catholic Left," in contrast to most commentary about religious politics today, which paints Christians – Catholics included – as uniformly conservative.  When you look at members of the Camden 28, it's hard not to make the connection to today's so-called "Religious Right," whose adherents claim to have a monopoly on the teachings of Jesus.  But I had always been taught that Jesus instructed his followers to "put away the sword, for he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword."  As the film demonstrates, the actions of the Camden 28 were motivated by their deep commitment to the Gospels, and as I see it, basically was their answer to the recently marketed phrase, "What Would Jesus Do?"

Members of the Camden 28 and I will be at the theater on opening weekend and some of the following screenings. I encourage you to come to see the film and talk with us afterwards.  And be sure to tell your friends.

Anthony Giacchino


The Camden 28 Opens July 27 at New York's Cinema Village
22 East 12th Street

Director Anthony Giacchino and some members of The Camden 28 will attend the Friday and Saturday screenings.
Please contact Cinema Village for up to date details.



“However galvanic the present seems for moviemakers, history brings out the best in documentaries . . . So it's easy to be seduced by Anthony Giacchino's The Camden 28..For aging rads, it's something of a gift; for the under-30 conscientious, it could be an inspiration.”
-The Village Voice

“The unspoken parallels between Iraq and Vietnam and the antiwar movements then and now are illustrated by The Camden 28, a poignant documentary recalling the all-but-forgotten trial of 28 Vietnam War opponents, mostly members of the Catholic Left, who were prosecuted for breaking into a draft board office in August 1971.”  -Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“As relevant now as ever. …an engaging, engrossing tale.” -Film Threat

“If protest seems futile, The Camden 28 shows how it can be done…Stirring, surprising, full of twists and turns, betrayals and redemption.” -Anthony Kaufman, San Francisco Film Society

“A story of resistance, friendship, and betrayal played out against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods in recent American history.” -Human Rights Watch Film Festival