American Experience: “Triangle Fire;” “Freedom Riders;” “Stonewall Uprising” (PBS)
2011 | American Experience in association with Apograph Productions, Firelight Media and Q-Ball Productions
One can learn a great deal about American history by studying its breaking points, those moments where the joint that holds together an unjust status quo can no longer hold. For twenty-two years, American Experience has told the stories of those watershed moments in brilliant, deeply investigative detail. In three excellent documentaries this year, American Experience explored abhorrent early 20th Century factory conditions; a noble, bloody, and ultimately triumphant struggle in the nascent Civil Rights movement; and the fight for gay equality leaping off the ground on one fateful 1969 night. Triangle Fire is a harrowing affair, which uses eerily dramatic reenactments and the chilling words of survivors to reconstruct the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, which killed 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women. In Freedom Riders, the story of the 1961 bus voyage through a segregated South meant to call attention to Jim Crow injustices is recounted day by day, each violent encounter studied in detail, revealing wounds that have taken generations to heal. And Stonewall Uprising contextualizes the painful mid-century homosexual experience, poignantly recounting the day when the gay community of Greenwich Village finally fought back. In each case, the horrors led (while not overnight) to material changes—safer working conditions, the end of segregation, and the rise of the gay rights movement. For three excellent films that examine the more ignoble streams of American history, and those individuals who, through life or death, changed their course, American Experience is awarded a Peabody.
Executive Producer: Mark Samels. Senior Producer: Sharon Grimberg. Series Producer: Susan Bellows. Producers: Jamila Wignot (Triangle Fire), Stanley Nelson, Laurens Grant (Freedom Riders), Kate Davis, David Heilbroner (Stonewall Uprising). Directors: Jamila Wignot (Triangle Fire), Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders), Kate Davis, David Heilbroner (Stonewall Uprising). Writers: Mark Zwonitzer (Triangle Fire),Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders), David Heilbroner (Stonewall Uprising).