From the Director:
The Sixties was a decade of social change and repression that has affected both members of that generation and the country as a whole to this day. The victories of that decade changed the country profoundly; the scars from that decade are still raw. Most of the media coverage of the Sixties distorts the first-hand experience of those of us who lived through it, leaving a large gap in public knowledge and understanding of that period.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is remembered today primarily as the spearhead of the opposition to the war in Vietnam, beginning with the 1965 March on Washington and ending with the Weathermen. But it was far more that that. SDS was an organization that spanned ten years, with eventually over 400 chapters in almost all fifty states, and that encompassed a wide variety of issues during a very turbulent decade. SDS began in 1960 when few had even heard of Vietnam and America was just beginning to face the injustices of segregation and racism. Those injustices outraged us, and slowly a movement for change began to grow on campuses. And then came Vietnam. SDS grew rapidly as that war expanded relentlessly, and our polite protests turned into stronger and more determined resistance — and increasing rage and frustration. Mixed in with all this were growing internal divisions and, although we didn’t understand it at the time, a concerted government move to destroy us. SDS died in 1970, but its spirit lives on.
I didn’t begin this project lightly. I knew that making the film I wanted to make about SDS would be difficult. It was a huge topic and a very complex period. People joined SDS at different times, for different reasons, and from different backgrounds — and every chapter was different. The tone of the times changed dramatically from 1960 to 1970. I wanted to capture all of this, or as much as I could, since there was no way to capture it all.
I knew that I especially wanted to show the trajectory of the decade — the changes in SDS, and in us as individuals. I also wanted to go beyond the flashy and well-known events to explore some of the subtleties, the underpinnings, and the unnoticed or overlooked issues and actions of those times. I knew that much of what I wanted to show was undocumented — but it’s precisely those less known parts that are in some ways the most interesting and important. I also wanted to put faces on the movement, to help the audience understand what drew us to SDS and what it was we cared about so deeply. I wanted those involved to tell the story directly — and to tell it from the grass-roots level. As I say in the film, “I wanted to show not just what we did, but why we did it, and how we changed as the events of that amazing decade swirled around us.”
I hope you’ll enjoy joining us for a tour through the Sixties we experienced.
For any questions, please contact me at Shire Films. I always love to get feedback on the film & to hear from people who were in SDS.
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