In the Fall of 1969, I picked up an old Bell+Howell 16mm fixed focus movie camera from the 1930s and all the Kodak 7276 B&W reversal film that I could afford. I shot the takeover and occupation of the Fordham University president’s office on the Bronx campus, on November 12, 1969 by the student antiwar organization, SDS.
The physical film itself has been through an odyssey. For years, while charges were still pending against those of us who participated in the building take-over, the large 35mm canister containing the film was buried under a farm field in update New York, wrapped in duct taped in black garbage bags. We had assured our defense attorney that it was burned. For a while in the 70s, it was in the basement of my parent’s farm house in Ballston Spa, NY. I gave strict instructions to my mother to plead ignorance if the FBI came looking for it. She recently told me just this year she decided that the best policy would be to hand it over to the feds if they showed up at the farm. Fortunately, when the FBI did come, they didn’t ask about the film.
The film canister survived the 40 year journey from apartment to apartment in the Bronx, in Staten Island and eventually in a row house in Philadelphia. The movie, as opposed to the raw footage, was never far from my mind.
Over the years, there were various cuts of exhibited to small audiences in South Bronx old men’s bars, in shabby Brooklyn storefronts and Atlantic City squats, as well as in classrooms in New York, Philadelphia and New Hampshire. My only print picked up a lot of neat dirt and scratches in the process.
I could say that I spent 44 years making this current cut. In a way, the movie made me. Preserving the footage and making this movie demanded patience and fortitude. My life as well as the lives of many of the students appearing in the movie, were transformed that day in November when desperation to end the war in Vietnam propelled us to violence.
I could go on making this movie for the next 44 years, but I’m editing it in Final Cut Pro 7, and who knows how long Apple will let the software function?
Bert Schultz is a Philadelphia media activist who has produced and distributed progressive media since the 1960s.
· Filmmaker, Fordham SDS, 1967-1970, 2006-2014
While a student at Fordham University (Bronx) and a member of SDS, he filmed, edited and produced a 16mm documentary of an administration building takeover that film has been screened over the years in various campus settings.
In 2006, he produced and directed the initial version of the Fordham SDS documentary at Scribe Video (Philadelphia, PA). A collective of former members of Fordham SDS have also contributed to the documentary.
In 2009, he received a PIVFA (Philadelphia Independent Video and Film Association) grant to edit a rough cut which was screened at the Flickering Image Film Festival.
Named Scribe Video’s Featured Artists in 2009.
· Organizer of The Philadelphia Marxist School 1984-1991
Organized and lead The Philadelphia Marxist School, (a 501 (c) 3 educational organization), a radical, non-sectarian school attended by over 1,000 Philadelphians. PMS offered course in Spanish For Activists, history and philosophy.
· Producer and Distributor of Multimedia Capital, 1998
Produced a CD-ROM containing a multimedia version of Karl Marx’s Capital. The CD, distributed by Monthly Review Press and available at progressive oriented educational conferences uses music and art to explain Marx’s critique of the capitalist system.
· Co-Chair, National Writers Union – Philadelphia Chapter 1998 – 2008
Served as the co-chair of the National Writers Union Philadelphia chapter. Worked with area writers to advance the interests of writers and the labor movement in Philadelphia. Terry Dugan
Terry M. Dugan was pelted with tomatoes and eggs at the first anti-war demonstration she attended, organized by the Berrigan brothers, in the fall of 1965 at Fordham University in the Bronx. She was married to Charles Dugan, the genial pipe smoking leader of Fordham SDS and was tear gassed, chased, threatened and carried out by police at many demonstrations in the 60s.
Terry became a writer and medical researcher working at Bellevue Hospital Pediatric AIDS clinic at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons. She appeared in the documentary, Women, Children and AIDS: A Test for the Nation and lectured on AIDS and Human Rights in Africa at Oxford University and on sex research methodology for the Social Service Research Council and the Ford Foundation. She trained hundreds of HIV/AIDS and sex researchers from the United States, Brazil and South Africa.
She holds a Master of Arts degree from New York University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Manhattanville College. She has won numerous awards for her poetry, fiction and essays. She was invited to read at many venues, including the United Nations, the Hudson Valley Writers Center and the Bowery Poetry Club. Fordham SDS is her first production effort.
The footage from 1969 was shot as a class project for a course I and Janet Foley, the ax-wielding starlet of Fordham SDS, were taking at Fordham. The name of the course was “Urban Violence.” It looked good in the catalog, but I don’t think we fully understood when we signed up that the point of view of the course was AGAINST urban violence. For Janet and me to get a grade I had to show the footage of the November 12 demonstration to the professor, but at the time there were charges against 22 of us that could have landed us in jail for 8 years, or whenever our student loans expired. The footage would have nailed us. Our lawyer had advised burning the footage, but that would have guaranteed an F for the course. So I snuck on campus, and set up a projector in a seldom visited classroom in Keating Hall where SDS often met. I had an SDS member visit the Jesuit professor in his office, and tell him that he would escort him to a secret location, and that he had to leave for the screening immediately, without letting anyone know where he was heading. The fellow SDSer brought the Jesuit, Fr. Ray Schroth, to the classroom. I screened the footage and politely asked Schroth to stay seated until the film left the building. He was not happy with the arrangement, but as I scowled at him, he stayed in his chair. Another SDSer then took the footage off campus to a South Bronx safe house. I think we got a C for the effort.
I put together a cut of the movie in November of 1969, right after the big building takeover, to show in various clandestine locations. This was a silent cut, so I needed title footage. I snuck on campus (there were still 2 felony and 1 misdemeanor charge against me) with the camera, loaded with film, and a poster with Nov 12 written on it. I and another SDSers, who was not wanted by the cops, put up the poster of the Administration Building door, and shot the cut you seen in the current movie. A campus cop was not pleased by this boldness, and came charging after me. I flipped the camera to my SDS comrade and lead the campus cop off campus and on a chase through the South Bronx. Unfortunately, we soon came upon a real cop, with handcuffs, and it was off to the 48th precinct for me. Coincidently arrested on the same day, my SDS comrade Louie ended up in an adjacent precinct cell, where we mournfully whistled the Internationale to each other.