Date: August 9, 2007
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, IL, August 9, 2007 – In the hope of finding a wider audience for his documentary film, Seth McClellan, a filmmaker at Governors State University, decided to take a chance. He submitted his documentary, “The New Battle,” concerning Dr. Martin Luther King and the Chicago Freedom Movement, to Chicago’s public broadcasting station, WTTW 11.
On Sunday, September 9, at 9:30 p.m., tens of thousands of Channel 11 viewers in Chicago will have the opportunity to see a remarkable film produced and directed by McClellan. Dan Soles, the Senior Vice President and Chief Television Content Officer, said the documentary is “an important historical account that showcases a key period in Chicago's civil rights movement. WTTW is proud to broadcast a film which provides the perspective of those individuals who worked with Dr. King to try and make our community a better place.”
“It felt great when I learned they wanted to show my film,” said McClellan of Crete. “There is a certain amount of validation in having my work recognized. I have worked very hard for this.”
McClellan studies filmmaking at Governors State University in University Park in its new Master of Fine Arts in Independent Film and Digital Imaging program. “The New Battle” was the winner of the Best Short Documentary at the 2007 Iowa Independent Film Festival. McClellan’s previous documentary, “Fading,” won first place at the 2006 Education Channel’s Independents’ Film Festival.
“The New Battle” uses the comments and observations of participants in the Chicago Freedom Movement in the 1960s to describe what happened and illustrate its effects. McClellan weaves the words of Jesse Jackson, C.T. Vivien, Willie Barrow, and others in with photographs taken during the period and additional footage filmed for the documentary.
“The importance of the Chicago Freedom Movement in the history of the Civil Rights Movement is often overlooked,” said McClellan. “The results of Dr. King and others’ work here was not immediately evident. In the south, it was obvious what people were fighting for. In Chicago, it was much more complicated. People were fighting institutional racism to open the Chicago housing market.”
To make this documentary, McClellan attended the Chicago Freedom Movement 40th Anniversary conference in July 2006 at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
“I was lucky enough to interview some of the leadership from that period. They were all approachable. I was able to record Rutha Harris singing great, old spirituals and traditional civil rights songs, which became the core music of the documentary.”
The still photographs which illustrate the participants’ commentaries came from the collection of John Tweedle, a well-known Chicago photographer and, according to McClellan, the unofficial photographer of the Chicago Freedom Movement.
“This is a high-definition documentary which focuses on the people, their story, and memories. It is about their faces. There is no narrator. They are the narrators. It is their story and how Dr. King lives in their memories,” explained McClellan.
In the final segment of the 27 minute film, McClellan’s narrators comment on the long term effects of the Chicago Freedom Movement, presenting a mixed assessment of the movement and conflicted view of the future.
“I was fortunate enough to document both the optimism and pessimism that are the results of the Chicago Freedom Movement,” said McClellan. “I am very grateful for the help I received from fellow GSU students. Elizabeth Fruth of Chicago was a great editor, and Rhonda Jackson of University Park and Brian Jones of Chicago were also very helpful.”
According to Daniel Nearing, Associate Professor of Independent Filmmaking at Governors State University, “We are very happy that Seth’s excellent work is being recognized and that a wider audience will have the chance to see this remarkable documentary.”
McClellan plans to submit his full-length documentary on the Chicago Freedom Movement to selected national and international film festivals in the coming year. After graduation, he will continue to make documentaries and hopes to work in higher education. A preview of “The New Battle” is available on his website, www.thorncreekproductions.com.
For more information about Governors State University’s new MFA program in Independent Film & Digital Imaging, visit www.govst.edu/mfa.