The Invalid Corps
Directed by Day Al-Mohamed
28 minutes, 14 seconds
In July 1864, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early launched a surprise raid that took him to the very gates of Washington, D.C. The city was in a panic. Almost every able-bodied soldier from the Union had already been sent south for the siege of Petersburg, more than 100 miles away. The only defenders remaining were clerks, government officials, and the Invalid Corps. Made up of men injured in battle or by disease, these “hopeless cripples” needed to hold out for a desperate 24 hours until Union Gen. Grant could send reinforcements. With Lincoln himself on the ramparts, they could not afford to fail.
Directed by Scott Calonico
7 minutes, 22 seconds
The most bizarre moment of Richard Nixon’s presidency happened on May 8, 1970. Days after the Ohio National Guard killed four college students at Kent State University – and less than two weeks after the invasion of Cambodia began – the president took an impromptu, late-night walk to the Lincoln Memorial with Manolo Sanchez, a White House valet. Nixon stumbled across dozens of student protesters at the site, with whom he engaged in a bizarre, rambling debate. This documentary is largely based on the never-before-published photos of a protester, Bob Moustaskas, and memos recorded by Nixon later that day.
The Original October Surprise
Directed by Scott Calonico
7 minutes, 55 seconds
Every election year, political operatives wait with bated breath – and journalists with a touch of morbid fascination – for the so-called “October Surprise,” a scandal that, whether by design or chance, threatens to destroy a presidential candidate with just weeks to go until Election Day. The October Surprise itself is not new and it has a remarkable provenance. The concept goes back to 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson, then engaged in a tough re-election campaign against Barry Goldwater, had to suddenly deal with his closest aide being swept up in a sex scandal.
The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed
Directed by Scott Calonico
8 minutes, 8 seconds
The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed is a documentary short about one of the funniest calls ever made from the Oval Office. In July of 1963, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was pregnant. While the president and his wife vacationed in Hyannis, Massachusetts, the Air Force prepared a hospital room at nearby Otis Air Force base for the use of the first lady, if the need arose. Somehow, the story leaked out that the Air Force completely refurbished the room, using more than $5,000 (nearly $40,000 in 2014 money) for improvements. This figure was printed in the Washington Post on July 25, 1963. The President blew a gasket when he saw the story, picked up the phone and immediately dialed an Air Force general at the Pentagon. The resulting conversation was captured for posterity by the White House telephone taping system.
Presidential Foresight: Theodore Roosevelt and the National Parks
Directed by Julia Mulheren
13 minutes, 29 seconds
Theodore Roosevelt’s concern for conservation led him to use his authority as president to create the United States Forest Service and sign the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect wildlife and public lands. His enthusiasm and foresight to preserve millions of acres for millions of visitors inspired the filmmaker to showcase some of the national parks existing today.
The Robert F. Kennedy Train – The People’s View
Directed by Rein Jelle Terpstra
8 minutes, 42 seconds
This film presents a reflection on the Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train that rode from NYC to Washington, D.C. on June 8, 1968. This film is entirely based on memories, snapshots, home movies and sound, recorded by bystanders standing along the tracks that day. On board the train was photographer Paul Fusco, who during the journey photographed the many bewildered mourners paying their final respects. A cross-section of American society – black and white, city-dwellers and country folk – all stared at the slowly passing train, which itself stayed mostly outside Fusco’s lens.
Feature Length Films
JFK: The Last Speech
Directed by Bestor Cram
57 minutes, 46 seconds
JFK: The Last Speech explores the dramatic relationship between two seminal Americans, President John F. Kennedy and the poet Robert Frost, which reached its tragic climax in a surprising encounter with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War. Born out of these events was Kennedy’s remarkable speech about poetry and power, which altered the life course of a group of Amherst college classmates who witnessed this compelling address and continue to exemplify in their contemporary lives a portrait of the challenges facing America.
Directed by Bruce Dellis
1 hour, 43 minutes
In suburban Phoenix, 40-year-old Ruth Kiesling is not exactly “living the dream.” She’s a donut shop employee with anger issues. She has no mother, a dead brother and a father in hospice. Her few friends include her roommates: Meg, her game-for-anything confidante since junior high; Holly, a somewhat level-headed janitor, and amateur ventriloquist; and her probation officer, Philip Crosby. Ever the opportunist and desperate for money, Ruth finds herself in a position to “steal” the body of President James Buchanan. She does so, hoping to ransom him for a nice windfall. But she’s surprised to discover that no one seems particularly interested in getting him back. Her interesting and unusual mix of friends join her as she tries to resolve the situation.
Directed by Carolina Sosa
1 hour, 10 minutes
Donald J. Trump’s fervent supporters and scared opponents were affected by Trump’s rhetoric and the media’s interpretation, increasing a dangerous political division. Now, it’s time for them to stop and listen to each other or push harder until they crash America’s democracy. This documentary examines the political division in the United States and how Trump increased that division with the help of the mainstream media. On one side, he gave strength and safety to his supporters, and on the other, he imposed fear and anger in his opponents, which led to major confrontations, protests, and counter-protests across the country. “Trumphobia” analyzes the reasons for the political division, stands in the middle of the road between his supporters and opponents and proposes empathy and compassion for all as a possible solution to the turmoil.
Directed by Werner Herzog and André Singer
1 hour, 32 minutes
A riveting documentary filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews, “Meeting Gorbachev” provides incredible access to, arguably, the world’s greatest living politician.
Now 87 and battling illness, the visionary Mikhail Gorbachev, former general secretary of the U.S.S.R., has mellowed and slowed down. Still, gently but resolutely, he is pushing towards his goals.
Co-director Werner Herzog, as an on-screen interviewer, does not disguise his affection, celebrating Gorbachev’s three remarkable accomplishments: Negotiations with the United States to reduce nuclear weapons; cessation of Soviet control of Eastern Europe and the reunification of Germany; and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. All of this was done in six years. One German diplomat sums up Gorbachev’s approach: “The process went so quickly that … opponents were overcome by the reality of the situation.” Herzog and Singer remind the viewer of the drastic and unforeseeable way the world changes.
Backstairs at the White House
Miniseries (An Ed Friendly Production)
Created by Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov
Follow the lives of two remarkable women who served eight administrations, from Taft to Eisenhower, over a 50-year period. This made-for-television mini-series, starring Leslie Uggams, Olivia Cole, Louis Gossett Jr., and Cloris Leachman, is based on the lives of Lillian Rogers Parks and her mother, Maggie Parks, who served as White Housemaids. Nominated for 11 Emmy Awards. Screening rights courtesy of Friendly Family Productions, LLC.