For a limited time only, until 5pm ET on October 23, we are thrilled to announce free online access to the films that were finalists for the 2019 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film. The annual Prize, established in 2019, recognizes a filmmaker whose documentary uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that touch on some aspect of American history. The recently-announced winner of the 2020 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film is Stefan Forbes’ Hold Your Fire, a feature-length documentary that uncovers the untold story behind the longest hostage siege in New York Police Department history.
Of the 2019 Prize finalists that are temporarily available online, From the Catbird Seat readers will be particularly interested in the documentary Flannery, a captivating biography of Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor and winner of the 2019 Prize, as well as The Adventures of Saul Bellow, the first major documentary of Pulitzer and Nobel-Prize winning author Saul Bellow. To watch the films, which are listed and described below, click on the “FULL FILM” links next to their titles and enter the given password. We hope you have a chance to enjoy the films while they are available!
2019 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize Finalists - View All
“Flannery” – WINNER, FULL FILM (password: Peacock)
Directed by Elizabeth Coffman & Mark Bosco, S.J.
A gothic story fueled by televangelists and girls with wooden legs, “Flannery” covers the biography of writer Flannery O’Connor with archival footage and creative motion graphics. A devout Catholic who walked with crutches, O’Connor wrote about the enduring prejudices of the post-war south. Mystery and manners abound in this work.
“Mae West: Dirty Blonde” – RUNNER UP, FULL FILM (password: maeday1)
Directed by Sally Rosenthal & Julia Marchesi.
“MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE” is a feature-length historical documentary film developed by Peeled Grape Productions LLC for PBS’ American Masters. The film explores the extraordinary career and legacy of this complex cultural figure, who left an indelible imprint on American entertainment as a writer, performer, and agitator for social change.
“The Adventures of Saul Bellow” – FINALIST, FULL FILM (password: Bellow2020)
Directed by Asaf Galay
This is the first major documentary on one of America’s greatest writers, Saul Bellow. The film examines Bellow’s influence on American literature, explores Bellow as a public figure, and looks at how he dealt with key issues of his time, including race, gender, and the Jewish and immigrant experience.
“Mr. Soul!” – FINALIST, FULL FILM (password: mrsoulbetterangels2019)
Directed by Melissa Haizlip
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was “Mr. SOUL!” An in-depth look at the late 1960s WNET public television series SOUL! and its producer Ellis Haizlip, who provided expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement.
“The First Angry Man” – FINALIST, FULL FILM (password: FAMJuly)
Directed by Jason Cohn & Camille Servan-Schreiber
“The First Angry Man” tells the story of political outsider Howard Jarvis and the California property tax revolt he led during Governor Jerry Brown’s first term in 1978. Historians credit Jarvis’ campaign for Proposition 13 with triggering a national anti-tax, anti-government movement with immeasurable and enduring consequences.
“9 to 5: The Story of a Movement” – FINALIST (not available online)
Directed by Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert
This historical documentary tells the story of a grassroots national movement of women clerical workers who endured low pay, disrespect and sexual harassment. By the early 1970s, they had had enough. They gathered their courage, rose up against their bosses and started fighting for a better life.