1913 Massacre. A Film Inspired By a Woody Guthrie Song

1913 Massacre Movie Poster1913 Massacre is a new, feature-length documentary I made with Ken Ross.

The film follows singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie to the town of Calumet, a once-thriving mining town on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula still haunted by the tragic events that inspired Woody Guthrie’s ballad, ’1913 Massacre.’

1913 Massacre touches on many of the themes I blog about — social collapse, corporate power, human dignity, deindustrialization, prosperity, post-industrial society, the power of story and the question of history.

Making the film took lots of listening — to Woody Guthrie’s music, which brought us to the Upper Peninsula in the first place, and to the people we met in and around Calumet, who lived, survived and inherited this story, and who still struggle today to come to terms with what happened at the Italian Hall in 1913 and what happened to their town in the wake of that tragedy. In Calumet, the people and things Woody Guthrie wrote about and sang about are not just ghosts and relics of an unretrievable past, but questions that hang over the present.

Here’s what people are saying about 1913 Massacre:

A terrific film. I got choked up several times. A very moving film.
-Jim Leary, Historian, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Expresses a love of life, and yet also looks hard and square at deep pain, hard fact, and the high stakes of denial.
-Marc Tognotti, Director, Institute of the Commons

The film is like finding a rape victim in the woods, left for dead by a rapist long busy elsewheres. Goes by the name Capitalism.
-Ken Jacobs, Filmmaker (“Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son,” “Star Spangled to Death,” “Seeking the Monkey King”)

Beautiful. Stirring. Important.
-Judith Helfand, Filmmaker (“Blue Vinyl,” “Everything’s Cool”)

You can find out more about the project and watch a trailer at 1913massacre.com.

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