APPALACHIA: RICH LAND, POOR PEOPLE (1968) Examines the causes of endemic poverty in Eastern Kentucky and W. Virginia. A look at a form of domestic imperialism and structural racism, corporate greed and weak local government. The story is told through the eyes of Frank Collins, an unemployed miner.

Every Seventh Child

EVERY SEVENTH CHILD (1967) examines Catholic parochial schools during the reign of Pope John, when the 2d encyclical caused great change in the church. The film raises the issue of tax subsidies for parochial schools at a time when many Catholic parents were questioning the value of their children’s increasingly expensive education.  To counter the film, a national write-in campaign against the film was organized by Citizens for Educational Freedom, (CEF) a national Catholic lobbying organization. In conjunction with CEF, the New York arch diocese sought to censor the film and got the producer, NET, to withdraw it from secondary distribution for schools, churches, community groups etc. After a screening  in the Social Cinema Series of the New York film Festival, Jack Willis debated Father John McLaughlin on the merits of the film vs. censorship. 

(See Film Comment, vol. 4, number 4, summer 1968 for a transcript of the debate between Willis and Father McLaughlin over the film.) 

“The program brought a sharp reportorial eye to a problem that is vexing Catholic communities throughout the country,” George Gent, The New York Times

Hard Times in the Country

HARD TIMES IN THE COUNTRY (1969)  Examines the contradiction between high food prices and the low financial gain for family run farms. The film depicts how   monopoly control of  the food industry by large corporations, processors and food chains  drives the family farm, once the backbone of the food industry, into financial ruin and gives rise to big agribusiness. It also examines what the demise of the family farm and the rise of agribusiness does to families, communities, stewardship of the land and other natural resources. 

To read more see the interview with Jack Willis in The New Documentary in Action: A Casebook  In Filmmaking, (1972) Pg. 122,  Alan Rosenthal, University of California Press. 


Lay My Burden Down

LAY MY BURDEN DOWN (1966) Captures the end of 100 years of Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers in the rural south who have been forced off the land and into tent cities in Alabama and Mississippi in the wake of the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act. It shows the beginnings of the Black Power Movement, with Stokely Carmichael, in Lowndes County, Alabama. EMMY NOMINEE, CINE GOLD EAGLE, BROTHERHOOD AWARD NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS. SHOWN AT NY FILM FESTIVAL.

Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang

PAUL JACOBS AND THE NUCLEAR GANG (1979) Examines reporter/activist Paul Jacobs investigation of the U.S. Government’s attempts to suppress the truth about the health hazards of low level radiation. The film is about exposure to atomic fallout in the 50s and early 60s by soldiers at the nuclear test site in Nevada; civilians living downwind fromthe site in Utah and Arizona; and problems facing workers at government nuclear facilities. Jacobs died in 1979 of cancer contracted while doing this work. EMMY, GEORGE POLK AWARD FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, FIRST AMENDMENT AWARD

Copies of Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang are available from Round World Productions.
(The first 10 minutes of the film are below)

Stella Adler, Awake and Dream

This documentary is an intimate portrait of the actor and teacher, Stella Adler, daughter of the renowned stars of the Yiddish Theatre, Jacob and Sara Adler.
Ms. Adler began her career as an actor but went on to found her own school, the Stella Adler School of Acting whose students included Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, Mark Ruffalo, Salma Hayek and Benito Del Toro. A student and practitioner of the Stanislavsky Method, she was an original member of the Group Theatre but broke from them when she rejected their belief that an actor should create himself from the thoughts and feelings of his character. Rather, she believed the actor should use his imagination after doing extensive research. 

The Streets of Greenwood

THE STREETS OF GREENWOOD (1963), looks at voter registration efforts by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)and a concert in a cotton field in the Mississippi Delta. One of the first films made about the southern civil rights movement. Features Pete Seeger. FIRST PRIZE SAN FRANCISCO FILM FESTIVAL. THEATRICAL AND TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION.