STURGIS – A free preview screening of highlights from “The Vietnam War,” the new 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, is coming to Sturgis.
The screening will take place at the kick-off celebration of the Sturgis Big Read, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Rally Point at Main and Harley-Davidson Way in Sturgis. The programs and discussions continue through Nov. 11.The film will premiere Sept. 17, on SDPB-TV and on PBS stations nationwide. The screening is free and open to the public.
Prior to the 6:15 p.m. showing, there will be a color guard ceremony followed by music by Kate Fjelstad while books and brochures are being distributed.
At 6 p.m., Mistress of Ceremonies Denise LaRue will introduce Mayor Mark Carstenson and announce the sponsors and partners of the Sturgis Big Read. More information about the NEA Big Read in Sturgis go online to www.sturgisbigread .com
In an immersive narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. “The Vietnam War” features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both sides.
“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way — from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.
“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said. “In addition to dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides, and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us. Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”
Julie Peterson, Director of the Sturgis Public Library and Co-chair of the NEA Big Read Committee in Sturgis, says she looks forward to seeing the documentary unfold during the Sturgis “Big Read” programs and discussions centering on the novel, “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien.
She said the committee hopes to facilitate a conversation within the community of Sturgis surrounding the unique cultural and social moment, which was the Vietnam War. Further, and perhaps more importantly, it aims to acknowledge the effects of the war on the veterans, their families, the nation and the Sturgis Community.
Ten years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.
“The Vietnam War” features more than 120 popular songs that define the era, including tracks from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Ben E. King, Phil Ochs, Donovan, Johnny Cash, Barry McGuire, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, The Temptations, Booker T. and the M.G.s, Pete Seeger and more.