Billy The Kid

Written, Produced and Directed by: John Maggio
Associate Producer: Julia Marchesi
Edited by: George O'Donnell
Director of Photography: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

Billy The Kid is a fascinating look at the myth and the man behind it. An outlaw with a deadly reputation, Billy the Kid was gunned down by an ambitious sheriff on July 14, 1881. The felling of one of the most notorious criminals of the age was instantly national news. First demonized by the lawman who killed him, the Kid was soon mythologized by a never-ending stream of dime store romances and big-screen dramas. Billy the Kid features interviews with a wide variety of Western historians and writers, and puts a human face on the legend who in just a few short years transformed himself from a skinny orphan boy to the most feared man in the West to an enduring icon. 

Film Website: Click here

Film Trailer:Click here

Football High

Written and Directed by: Rachel Dretzin
Produced by: Rachel Dretzin and Caitlin McNally
Co-Produced and Edited by: Seth Bomse
Camera: Samuel Russell
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

Corporate sponsorships, nationally televised games, minute-by-minute coverage on sports websites -- for players, parents and coaches, high school football has never been bigger. But is enough being done to ensure players' safety as the intensity of the sport grows? In Football High, FRONTLINE investigates the new face of high school football. Football observers and sports journalists alike agree that on average, high school players' size, speed and strength have increased dramatically over the past five to 10 years. At Euless Trinity in Texas, which has been ranked the No. 1 high school team in the country, 18 of the 89 varsity players weigh over 250 pounds. "The ramping up of pressure on high school kids ... and the increase of media attention on high school football, my God, in the last 10 years, it's become like a little NFL," says Gregg Easterbrook, a writer and columnist for ESPN. "If you look at it position by position, you can only compare it to NFL teams," says trainer Kelvin Williams. "It's just crazy. They are huge." FRONTLINE centers its investigation in Arkansas, where two players collapsed from heatstroke last year while practicing during one of the hottest summers on record. The players were placed in the same intensive care unit in Little Rock, both having suffered extensive damage to their internal organs. One boy survived, but the other boy died in the hospital three months after his collapse. "There should never, ever be a person [dying] from exertional heatstroke, because it's 100 percent preventable," says Dr. Doug Casa, a leading expert on heatstroke. In the wake of the tragedy in Arkansas, FRONTLINE investigates the differences in the two boys' fates. Only one of the boys' teams had an athletic trainer on staff, which reflects the reality in most of Arkansas: Only 15 percent of the schools in the state have a certified medical professional at games and practices, slightly below the national average. The program also investigates the estimated 60,000 concussions suffered each year by high school football players. In 2010, researchers discovered a degenerative mental disease in the brain of 21-year-old Owen Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania football player who committed suicide last year -- and had never reported a concussion throughout his football career. Thomas' brain showed evidence of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same mental degenerative disease rampant in the brains of NFL players with serious mental problems. "It has totally changed what I thought about this game," says VA researcher Dr. Ann McKee. "Anybody who's playing the game, this could happen; this could be the result."

Film Website: Click here

Film Trailer:Click here

My Lai

Written, Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: Nancy Novack
Associate Producer: Jamila Ephron
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Joel Goodman

What drove a company of American soldiers--ordinary young men from around the country--to dehumanize and murder more than 300 unarmed civilians? Were they "just following orders," as some later declared? Or did they break under the pressure of vicious war in which the line between enemy soldier and civilian had been intentionally blurred? Today, as the United States once again finds itself questioning the morality of actions taken in the name of war, Barak Goodman focuses his lens on the 1968 My Lai massacre, its subsequent cover-up, and the heroic efforts of the soldiers who broke rank to halt the atrocities. My Lai draws upon the eyewitness accounts of Vietnamese survivors and the men of Charlie Company and recently discovered audio recordings from the Peers Inquiry to recount one of the Vietnam War's darkest chapters. On the morning of March 16, 1968, a company of American soldiers entered the village of My Lai, located in Quang Ngai Province in central Vietnam. Frustrated by their inability to directly engage the enemy and emotionally devastated by the ongoing casualties their unit had sustained, the men had been told that this was their chance to finally meet the Viet Cong head on. By the end of the day, they had shot and killed between 300 and 507 unarmed and unresisting men, women and children, none of them apparently members of the enemy forces. Most of the survivors hid under the dead bodies of their families and neighbors. The incident, subsequently known as the My Lai Massacre, would only come to light more than a year later, when shocking photos of the atrocities were splashed across the pages of national newsmagazines and the evening newscasts, further eroding public support for the war in Vietnam. The U.S. Army commissioned an investigation, eventually charging over 20 men of wrongdoing. The commission concluded that there had been widespread failures of leadership, discipline and morale. On March 29, 1971, Lieutenant William Calley was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison, causing a firestorm of public outcry. Anti-war Americans saw Calley as a scapegoat for a corrupt military; those in favor saw him as a dedicated soldier who had only been carrying out orders. Public sentiment overwhelmed the White House, and President Nixon ordered Calley released and confined to his quarters pending a review of his conviction. In total, he ended up serving four and a half months in a military prison. Captain Medina was acquitted, having denied that he gave any orders for the massacre. None of the other military men initially charged were ever convicted. My Lai had a lasting impact on a war-weary American public. Demands for withdrawal from Vietnam continued to grow, while others questioned the idea of blind loyalty to military leadership, the effectiveness of a military draft for finding suitable recruits, and the wisdom of a war whose success was measured on the nightly news by body counts. Today, the My Lai Massacre is still considered the worst case of an American war atrocity.

Film Website: Click here

Film Trailer:Click here

Faces of America

Produced and Directed by: John Maggio, Leslie Asako Gladsjo, Sue Williams, Stephen Ives and Amanda Pollak
Senior Producers: Barak Goodman and Sue Williams
Editors: Ed Barteski, Jr, Joanna Kiernan, Merril Stern, and George O'Donnell
Co-Producer (Episode 1): Julia Marchesi
Coordinating Producer: Stephen Altobello
Associate Producers: Konstantinos Kambouroglou, Titi Yu and Lindsey Megrue
Camera: Stephen McCarthy and Sam Shinn
Original Music: Michael Bacon

What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Building on the success of his series African American Lives (called by The New York Times "the most exciting and stirring documentary on any subject to appear on television in a long time,") and African American Lives 2, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. again turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of twelve renowned Americans. Our American Stories - Episode One explores the dynamic and shifting relationship America had with her new immigrants in the 20th century. World war tore apart families; and sundered the fabric of many lives; but America beckoned and millions came. Yet, America was an ambivalent host. At its best, a place of refuge and salvation, as for film director Mike Nichols whose entire family escaped Nazi Germany. At its worst, a country that would imprison two generations of Japanese Americans, like the ancestors of Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. Along the way, we'll discover the buoyant American optimism that shaped chance - as in a single encounter that changed cellist Yo-Yo Ma's life forever - to pave the road to success. Becoming American - Episode Two explores the many journeys to becoming American that defined the "Century of Immigration" (1820s - 1924) and transformed the United States from a sleepy agrarian country into a booming industrial power. Stephen Colbert's Irish great-great-grandfather escaped poverty and religious oppression in Limerick and never looked back, whereas Mario Batali's great-grandfather, who left the place where his family had lived for centuries, struggled to survive in the quartz mines of Montana. Her Majesty Queen Noor's Syrian great-grandfather quickly found his footing in New York's first Arab American community, while Kristi Yamaguchi's grandfather faced exclusionary laws and racially-defined barriers to citizenship for decades. The obstacles, short-cuts, tragedies and successes encountered or created by the guests' ancestors from around the world reveal the complexity of our shared history and identity as Americans. Making America - Episode Three tells the story of the peopling of the New World, of how land came to define the settling and identity of America, and of how the guests' ancestors were part of this history. We discover descriptions of Meryl Streep's eighth great-grandfather who fought in Metacom's War; records of a land dispute in Spain that pushed Eva Longoria's ancestors to leave for the New World; a treaty that Louise Erdrich's Native American ancestor was forced to sign; and Yo-Yo Ma's family genealogy in China, which gives insights into his identity he has longed for his whole life. Know Thyself - Episode Four takes up the search for the guests' ancestries where the historical record leaves off and links their distinctive family histories to the broader history of "the family of man." Combining the documented stories of some of the guests' last known ancestors with DNA evidence, the series travel backward through time to reveal both distant relatives and surprising shared ancestral connections. Elizabeth Alexander learns that she is a direct descendent of Charlemagne, and that her paternal roots are not only European, but Jewish. Meryl Streep and Mike Nichols discover that they are distant cousins, as do Yo-Yo Ma and Eva Longoria. Interwoven with these stories and others is the journey of the host, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he and his father and brother undertake an historic project to have their entire genomes mapped, and thereby to learn everything they possibly can about their own family. This episode offers a compelling and thought-provoking meditation on the importance of ancestry, the meaning of family and the role of both in creating identity.

 

Film Website: Click here

Digital Nation

Produced and Directed by: Rachel Dretzin
Written by: Douglas Rushkoff and Rachel Dretzin
Correspondents: Douglas Rushkoff and Rachel Dretzin
Edited by: R.A. Fedde
Co-Producer: Caitlin McNally
Associate Producer: Jeffrey Irvine
Directors of Photography: Sam Shinn and Stephen McCarthy
Camera: Samuel Z. Russell
Original Music: Joel Goodman

Digital Nation is a new, open source PBS project that explores what it means to be human in an entirely new world -- a digital world. It consists of a Web site as well as a 90-minute FRONTLINE documentary. Our production team posted rough cuts and raw footage on the web for a year leading up to the broadcast, gathering input, feedback and stories from users along the way. Within a single generation, digital media and the World Wide Web have transformed virtually every aspect of modern culture, from the way we learn and work to the ways in which we socialize and even conduct war. But is the technology moving faster than we can adapt to it? And is our 24/7 wired world causing us to lose as much as we've gained? In Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, FRONTLINE presents an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world. Continuing a line of investigation she began with the 2008 FRONTLINE report Growing Up Online, award-winning producer Rachel Dretzin embarks on a journey to understand the implications of living in a world consumed by technology and the impact that this constant connectivity may have on future generations. "I'm amazed at the things my kids are able to do online, but I'm also a little bit panicked when I realize that no one seems to know where all this technology is taking us, or its long-term effects," says Dretzin. Joining Dretzin on this journey is commentator Douglas Rushkoff, a leading thinker and writer on the digital revolution -- and one-time evangelist for technology's positive impact. "In the early days of the Internet, it was easy for me to reassure people about what it would mean to bring digital technology into their lives," says Rushkoff, who has authored 10 books on media, technology and culture. "Now I want to know whether or not we are tinkering with something more essential than we realize."

Film Website: Click here

Looking For Lincoln

Produced and Directed by: John Maggio and Muriel Soenens
Senior Producer: Barak Goodman
Edited by: R.A. Fedde
Associate Producers: Konstantinos Kambouroglou and Ben Robbins
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Joel Goodman

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. travels the country in search of the "real" Abraham Lincoln in this ground breaking two hour television special. The film shows how the Lincoln legend grew out of controversy, greed, love, clashing political perspectives, power struggles, and considerable disagreement over how our 16th president should be remembered. Gates' quest to piece together Lincoln's complex life takes him from Illinois to Gettysburg to Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and beyond and face-to-face with people who live with Lincoln every day – relic hunters, re-enactors, and other surprising guests for whom the study of Lincoln is a passion. Public media provider WNET.ORG is playing a major role in the nationwide Lincoln Bicentennial celebration in 2009 with LOOKING FOR LINCOLN, an unprecedented two-hour broadcast, online, and outreach project that explores the life and legacy of the man widely considered one of our best and most enigmatic presidents. The documentary, presented and written by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.(African American Lives, Oprah's Roots), addresses many of the controversies surrounding Lincoln – race, equality, religion, politics, and depression – by carefully interpreting evidence from those who knew him and those who study him today. Among those weighing in: Pulitzer Prize winners Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner; presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; and Lincoln scholars including Harold Holzer, vice chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; Harvard University's president Drew Faust and history professor David Hebert Donald; Yale University history professor David Blight; and Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College. Former Ebony magazine editor Lerone Bennett challenges Lincoln's record on race; writer Joshua Shenk talks about Lincoln's depression; and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik illuminates how Lincoln's words changed the course of history.

Film Website: Click here

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Produced, Directed and Written by: Barak Goodman
Narrated by: Chris Cooper
Edited by: Sari Gilman
Coordinating Producer: Kristina Cafarella
Associate Producer: Jamila Ephron
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Joel Goodman

As the nation celebrated the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Joy turned to panic as authorities launched the largest manhunt in American history. Unraveling what school children are taught year after year, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln re-examines the two figures who define the extremes of character: Lincoln, who had the strength to transform suffering into infinite compassion, and Booth, who allowed hatred to curdle into destruction. On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. Over the next twelve days, as a fractured nation mourned, the largest manhunt ever attempted closed in on his assassin, the twenty-six-year-old renowned actor, John Wilkes Booth. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, from Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman (The Lobotomist, Boy in the Bubble, Kinsey). The 90-minute film features actor Will Patton (Numb3rs, A Mighty Heart) as the voice of the assassin, and is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper (Seabiscuit, Adaptation). Interviews with the nation's foremost Lincoln scholars recount a great American drama: two tumultuous months when the joy of peace was shattered by the heartache of Lincoln's death. "It was with the assassination that the myth of Abraham Lincoln was born. Lincoln was not universally liked or beloved during his presidency. Millions of people hated him. Once he was assassinated, everything changed," adds James L. Swanson, author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer and a young adult version of the story, Chasing Lincoln's Killer.

Film Website: Click here

Growing Up Online

Produced and Directed by: Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio
Written by: Rachel Dretzin
Edited by: R.A. Fedde
Associate Producer: Caitlin McNally
Camera: Tom Hurwitz
Original Music: Frank Ferucci
Additional editing: John Maggio

A generation with a radically different notion of privacy and personal space, today's adolescents are grappling with issues their parents never had to deal with: from cyber bullying to instant "Internet fame," to the specter of online sexual predators. FRONTLINE investigates the risks, realities, and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the World Wide Web. Description: Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as Autumn Edows, a goth artist and model. She posted provocative photos of herself on the Web and fast developed a cult following. "I just became this whole different person," Autumn tells FRONTLINE. "I didn't feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn't feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous." News of Jessica's growing fame as Autumn Edows reached her parents only by accident. "I got a phone call, and the principal says one of the parents had seen disturbing photographs and material of Jessica," her father tells FRONTLINE. "I had no idea what she was doing on the Internet. That was a big surprise." In Growing Up Online, FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood. "The Internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, and now it's something that really is the province of teenagers, " says C.J. Pascoe, a postdoctoral scholar with the University of California, Berkeley's Digital Youth Research project. 

Film Website: Click here

The Lobotomist

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and John Maggio
Written by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: R.A. Fedde
Associate Producer: Kate Walker
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Edward Bilous
Additional Editing: John Maggio

Now considered one the most infamous medical mistakes in American history, lobotomy began as an idealistic remedy for mental illness. The story of how one man's energy and conviction could lead medicine down a blind alley, The Lobotomist is as scarily relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Description: In the early decades of the 20th century, before the development of psychiatric medications, there were few effective treatments for mental illness. For most patients, the last stop in their anguished journey was an overcrowded state asylum. While Freudian psychoanalysis and "talk" therapy was gaining prominence as a potential cure, an ambitious young neurologist named Walter Freeman advocated a more radical approach -- brain surgery to reduce the severity of psychotic symptoms. The brilliant scion of one of America's most distinguished medical families, Freeman spent years searching for the biological abnormality that lay at the roots of madness. In 1936, he learned of a Portuguese neurologist who was using a thin steel instrument to operate on the frontal lobes of mentally ill patients. Freeman set about perfecting the procedure he later named lobotomy and began performing it in the United States. Despite mixed results, by the early 1940s, some fifty state asylums were performing lobotomies on their patients. The procedure was hailed as a miracle cure, Freeman himself a visionary who brought hope to the most desolate human beings. Yet only a decade later, the story would come full-circle again. Freeman would be decried as a moral monster, the lobotomy as one of the most barbaric mistakes ever perpetrated by mainstream medicine. Through interviews with medical historians, psychiatrists who worked with Freeman, and the desperate families who sought his help, this American Experience episode tells a gripping tale of medical intervention gone awry.

Film Website: Click here

Film Trailer:Click here

A Hidden Life

Produced by: Rachel Dretzin and Muriel Soenens
Directed by: Rachel Dretzin and Barak Goodman
Written by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: George O'Donnell and R.A. Fedde
Associate Producer: Caitlin McNally
Camera: Jon Shenk
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

In A Hidden Life, Ark Media and FRONTLINE explore how a front-page scandal exposed some of the most deeply buried issues surrounding homosexuality in America. With unfettered access to all the key players, the one-hour documentary sheds new light on questions of sexual identity, journalistic ethics, and the experience of homosexuals living far from the front lines of America's culture wars. In May 2005, the city of Spokane, Washington, awoke to startling headlines. Jim West, Spokane's popular, socially conservative Republican mayor, had been exposed as a homosexual by the city's newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. The paper told a sordid story of a man leading two lives: the public life of a conservative politician and a private life spent trawling for young men on the Internet. The scandal was easy fodder for late night comedians and combatants in the national culture wars. But behind the screaming headlines lay a more complex story. Had the newspaper overstepped journalistic boundaries when it invented a teenage boy to meet the mayor in an online chatroom? Were key details of the story exaggerated, or even distorted? Had the Spokesman-Review exposed a predator or 'outed' a private man? In A Hidden Life, Ark Media and FRONTLINE explore how a front-page scandal exposed some of the most deeply buried issues surrounding homosexuality in America. With unfettered access to all the key players, the one-hour documentary sheds new light on questions of sexual identity, journalistic ethics, and the experience of homosexuals living far from the front lines of America's culture wars.

Film Website: Click here

Einstein's Letter

Produced and Directed by: John Maggio and Barak Goodman
Written by: John Maggio
Edited by: Nancy Kennedy
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

Part of the groundbreaking Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America series, "Einstein's Letter" writes a new page in the history of the Atomic Bomb. 10 Days that Saved America: Einstein's Letter documents the remarkable evolution of the atom bomb from its perceived idea, to the physics behind a self-sustained nuclear chain reaction to its development in the Manhattan project. The development of the bomb, by Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi and indirectly Albert Einstein, is arguably the most decisive scientific development of the 20th century and maybe single most important scientific undertaking the United States has ever accomplished. The aggressive project, developed by foreigners on American soil, was enacted under supreme secrecy, but The History Channel brings a new and innovative chronological analysis to light. Utilizing reenactments, primary sources, expert historians, Einstein's actual letters, recordings from FDR, and authentic video clips from the earlier half of the 20th century, the program thoroughly explains Einstein and Szilard's dilemma as well as the bureaucratic hurdles that the two faced in their quest to defend America and free the world from widespread fear of the Nazi regime.

The Boy In The Bubble

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and John Maggio
Written by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: George O'Donnell
Associate Producer: Kate Walker
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Gary Lionelli
Narrated by: Campbell Scott

In his own time, many regarded David's 12-year odyssey inside his bubble as a triumph of technology. To others, it was a bizarre experiment that exemplified medical hubris. The Boy in the Bubble is a story of medical perseverance and personal tragedy. When David Vetter died at the age of 12, he was already world famous: the boy in the plastic bubble. Mythologized as the plucky, handsome child who had defied the odds, his life story is in fact even more dramatic. It is a tragic tale that pits ambitious doctors against a bewildered, frightened young couple; it is a story of unendingly committed caregivers and resourceful scientists on the cutting edge of medical research. This American Experience raises some of the most difficult ethical questions of our age. Did doctors, in a rush to save a child, condemn the boy to a life not worth living? Did they, in the end, effectively decide how to kill him? 

Film Website: Click here

Precinct Hollywood

Produced and Directed by: Muriel Soenens and Rachel Dretzin
Written by: Rachel Dretzin
Edited by: Pamela Scott Arnold
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

Since the earliest days of movies, Hollywood has been obsessed by cops and robbers. In this fast-paced and exciting documentary, Ark Media covers more than three decades of cop movies from Serpico to Narc. Talking intimately with filmmakers such as William Friedkin, Martin Bregman, Antoine Fuqua, James Mangold, Joe Carnahan and actors such as Ray Liotta and Roy Scheider, Precinct Hollywood explores the evolution of the Hollywood "cop film" from the gritty realism of the 70's to the romanticized versions of the men in blue and shows how the genre has closely tracked the cultural and political milieus in which they were made.

Kinsey

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and John Maggio
Written by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: George O'Donnell
Associate Producer: Caroline Harting
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
Original Music: Gary Lionelli
Additional editing: John Maggio

Alfred Kinsey was a little-known biologist at Indiana University when, in the 1940s, he began compiling exhaustive data from tens of thousands of interviews about the sexual practices of men and women. The results of that research were the explosive, best-selling Kinsey Reports. Alfred Kinsey was a little-known biologist at Indiana University when, in the 1940s, he began compiling exhaustive data from tens of thousands of interviews about the sexual practices of men and women. The results of that research were the explosive, best-selling Kinsey Reports. Implicit in the revolutionary studies was a plea for greater tolerance. "Such terms as abnormal, unnatural, oversexed, and undersexed," wrote Harper's Magazine, "have little validity in the light of Professor Kinsey's revelations." The man behind the inflammatory reports seemed at first glance an unlikely "revolutionary." Publicly, he was an erudite, tweedy academic, but in private Kinsey was far more complex. As his interest in sex research deepened so did his wide-ranging sexual experimentation. Though his work was groundbreaking and up-ended established ideas about sexual practices in America, his own sexual orientation and personal beliefs almost certainly shaped and biased his findings. Through interviews with his research assistants, his children, people who took his sex questionnaire, his biographers, and intellectual historians, this probing documentary assesses Kinsey's remarkable achievements, while examining how his personal life shaped his career.

Film Website: Click here

The Fight

Produced, Directed and Written by: Barak Goodman
Co-produced by: John Maggio
Narrated by: Courtney B. Vance
Edited by: Lewis Erskine
Associate Producer: Justin Vogt
Original Music: Edward Bilous

The rematch between the African American heavyweight Joe Louis and his German opponent Max Schmeling was riveting. But for most spectators the fight was much more than a boxing match; it was an historic event freighted with symbolic significance, both a harbinger of the civil rights movement and a prelude to World War II. On June 22, 1938, 70,000 fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to watch what some observers have since called "the most important sporting event in history." Millions more tuned in to hear a blow-by-blow description on the radio. The rematch between the African American heavyweight Joe Louis and his German opponent Max Schmeling was riveting -- "one hundred and twenty-four seconds of murder," as one newspaper put it. But for most spectators the fight was much more than a boxing match; it was an historic event freighted with symbolic significance, both a harbinger of the civil rights movement and a prelude to World War II. In this first feature-length documentary about the momentous encounter, American Experience captures the anticipation the bout generated, the swirl of events leading up to it, the impact Louis's victory had on black America and its significance for Jews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Film Website: Click here

The Persuaders

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin
Produced by: Muriel Soenens
Written by: Barak Goodman and Douglas Rushkoff
Correspondent: Douglas Rushkoff
Edited by: Pamela Scott Arnold
Associate Producer: Justin Vogt
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Original Music: Gary Lionelli

In The Persuaders, FRONTLINE explores how the cultures of marketing and advertising have come to influence not only what Americans buy, but also how they view themselves and the world around them. The 90-minute documentary draws on a range of experts and observers of the advertising/marketing world, to examine how, in the words of one on-camera commentator, "the principal of democracy yields to the practice of demography," as highly customized messages are delivered to a smaller segment of the market. Americans are swimming in a sea of messages. Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists-most of whom work for one of six giant companies-spend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

Film Website: Click here

Failure To Protect

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin
Written by: Barak Goodman
Edited by: Pamela Scott Arnold
Field Producer: Muriel Soenens
Associate Producers: Rachel Dawson and Justin Vogt
Camera: Jim Helling
Original Music: Ed Bilous

When should a parent lose the right to raise a child? FRONTLINE goes behind the scenes of one state's child welfare system in a two-part series to probe one of the most drastic and unchecked governmental powers. What is the proper balance between saving a child and destroying a family? In a two-part series, "Failure to Protect," FRONTLINE probes the complexities and difficulties in trying to answer that question through a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at Maine's child protective services. Part One, "The Taking of Logan Marr," tells the tragic story of a young girl who was killed while in state custody. On Jan. 31, 2001, 5-year-old Logan Marr was found dead in her foster mother's home in Chelsea, Maine. The foster mother, Sally Schofield, was a highly respected former caseworker for Maine's Department of Human Services (DHS). She would later be convicted of manslaughter after police determined that Logan had died from asphyxiation in Sally's basement, where she had been bound with duct tape and strapped into a high chair. The death of Logan Marr prompted public outrage. Why did the state remove Logan from her mother, Christy Marr, when there was no evidence of physical or sexual abuse? Did the DHS move too quickly to terminate Christy's parental rights? And did it fail to heed warning signs that Logan was in danger? Through extensive interviews with the parties involved -- including an exclusive interview with Sally Schofield -- the one-hour documentary investigates the events that led to Logan's death. It also tells the story of the two women locked in a battle over Logan: Christy, who fought to prove to DHS that she should have her daughter back, and Sally, who remained determined to adopt Logan, even as she struggled to control the troubled child. Through their stories, "The Taking of Logan Marr" casts light on a system that is almost always cloaked in secrecy: state child protective services. "The termination of a parent's rights to their child is one of the most drastic decisions the state is called upon to make -- yet it does so with little or no public scrutiny," says Barak Goodman, who co-produced the documentary with his wife, Rachel Dretzin, and Muriel Soenens. "The system is almost always shrouded by confidentiality agreements and privacy laws." While senior DHS officials in Maine declined to be interviewed about the Logan Marr case, they did make an unprecedented offer -- they would allow FRONTLINE's producers to film their normally confidential child protective system from the inside for more than four months. The result is Part Two of the "Failure to Protect" series: a one-hour documentary called "The Caseworker Files." "The Caseworker Files" follows a small set of caseworkers as they interact with families and each other and have to confront some excruciating dilemmas and choices: Who decides when a child should be removed from her parents? When should parents lose the right to raise their own child? And how much damage might we do to children in the name of helping them? "We found a system where caseworkers, many of whom are relatively inexperienced, struggle under heavy caseloads as an ever-increasing number of children are placed in foster care," says Goodman. "We also found angry and resentful parents who feel that their children are being taken away from them before they've been given a fair chance to improve things." "The Caseworker Files" reveals a child welfare system that in recent years has undergone a major philosophical shift. Whereas once the emphasis was placed on trying to eventually reunite children with their biological parents -- a policy that often left children languishing in foster care for years -- state and federal guidelines now favor fast-tracking adoption of children in foster care, a move that requires the state to terminate the biological parents' rights.

 

Film Website: Click here

Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and Marc Shaffer
Written by: Barak Goodman and Marc Shaffer
Edited by: Andrew Gersh
Associate Producer: Jason Cohn
Camera: Jim Helling
Original Music: Edward Bilous

In Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV, FRONTLINE examines whether America's most popular vehicle may also be one of its most dangerous, and investigates why automakers and government regulators failed to do more to protect and inform American consumers. One in every four new vehicles sold in America today is an SUV. Indeed, SUVs are the most popular vehicles on the road -- and the most profitable. Some manufacturers make up to $15,000 in profits on every SUV that rolls off the assembly line. The sport utility vehicle is one of Detroit's greatest success stories, credited with saving the U.S. auto industry. But the SUV has a serious safety problem: its tendency to roll over. There will be an estimated 70,000 SUV rollovers in 2002, in which some 2000 people will die. The dangers of SUVs were spotlighted in the fall of 2000, when the sensational Ford-Firestone scandal prompted Congress to launch a series of hearings focusing on deaths and injuries related to faulty Firestone tires mounted on Ford Explorers. But, during the same 10-year period in which Ford-Firestone rollover crashes caused some 300 deaths, more than 12,000 people -- 40 times as many -- died in SUV rollovers unrelated to tire failure. In "Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV," FRONTLINE examines whether America's most popular vehicle may also be one of its most dangerous, and investigates why automakers and government regulators failed to do more to protect and inform American consumers.

Film Website: Click here

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

Produced, Directed and Written by: Barak Goodman
Produced and Co-Directed by: Daniel Anker
Edited by: Jean Tsien
Associate Producer: Trina Quagliaroli
Camera: Buddy Squires
Original Music: Edward Bilous

In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers on the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. In March 1931, a freight train crowded with homeless and jobless hoboes left Chattanooga, Tennessee, bound for points west. A short time after it crossed into Alabama, a fight erupted between two groups of hoboes-one black and one white. The train was stopped by an armed posse in the tiny town of Paint Rock, Alabama. Before anyone knew what had happened, two white women stepped from the shadows of a boxcar to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers aboard the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. Before it was over, the Scottsboro affair-so-named for the little Alabama town where the nine were put on trial for their lives-would divide Americans along racial, political, and geographic lines. It would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions, and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. But for all its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is at its core a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives-and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes. Scottsboro: An American Tragedy tells this extraordinary lost story for the first time on film-from the points of view of both North and South. Viewers travel from the jails of Alabama to the salons of New York and meet a fascinating gallery of characters: the lead defendant-a defiant black man who refuses to lay down before the power of Alabama; the defense lawyer-who comes to see in the case echoes of the discrimination he has felt himself; the accuser-a poor white woman who finds in her lie a route to respectability; and the Southern judge-who risks the scorn of his beloved state to deliver justice. The filmmakers spent five years making Scottsboro: An American Tragedy-weaving together interviews of the last surviving witnesses to the trials, and never-before-seen archival footage and photos from as far away as Russia, with letters, diaries, newspaper editorials, and trial transcripts. The voices of Andre Braugher, Frances McDormand, Stanley Tucci, and Harris Yulin and others, help bring the film to life.

Film Website: Click here