As the war in Iraq grinds on, one of the era’s most iconic happenings continues to be Camp Casey, the makeshift encampment erected by Gold Star mom and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan during August 2005 in Crawford, Texas, just a stone’s throw from a vacationing President Bush.
While the media attention was white-hot, few people enjoyed the breadth of access as filmmaker Rebecca MacNeice, who lives in Asheville where she owns a film production company. Initially, MacNeice hoped she could shoot footage that might prove lucrative to other media outlets, but what followed was three weeks of joy, sorrow and a carnival-type atmosphere that saw visits from Martin Sheen, Daniel Ellsberg and the Rev. Al Sharpton. MacNeice also convinced Joan Baez to don a wireless microphone and allow MacNeice to follow her around. Over the next two years, MacNeice continued to follow Sheehan and her band of activists to protests in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Today, MacNeice is in the process of assembling her footage into a feature-length documentary called Crawford, Texas. On Oct. 26, Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies will screen an expanded, 45-minute trailer of the unfinished film as a part of CDS’s Fresh Docs: Work in Progress series. MacNeice will be present to discuss the film. “What’s significant about [Camp Casey],” says MacNeice, “is that it took place during a time when people were still afraid to question the war. I hope that my film can take viewers to a place where the news did not take them.”
Indeed, the journey to complete Crawford, Texas has been an odyssey unto itself. “For years, no one would touch the project to supply funding,” says MacNeice. “Even the local Asheville Arts Council refused to helpsomeone told me they were afraid of being audited.” Only after Durham’s Southern Documentary Fund agreed to become the doc’s fiscal sponsor did the post-production process begin in earnest on this timely film.
CDS is located at 1317 W. Pettigrew St. in Durham. Following an hour-long happy hour, the free screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. For more information, call 660-3670 or visit cds.aas.duke.edu/events/freshdocsoverview.html.