Easton filmmakers launch the James Baldwin Transmedia Project

PBS National is beaming the Baldwin film to its affiliates tonight with encore broadcasts on PBS/American Masters


The film showing will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington
and the Publication of James Baldwin’s Essay “The Fire Next Time.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Easton filmmakers Karen Thorsen and Douglas K. Dempsey will launch the James Baldwin Transmedia Project with a prime-time encore broadcasts of Baldwin on PBS/American Masters.through free streaming on demand, via the American Masters website:  pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters.

In Fairfield County, WEDWH/Channel 10 on Cablevision will air Sunday, Aug. 25, 12:30 p.m. In the New York City area, WNET/Channel 13 has now scheduled the airdate as Friday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. The best plan is to search online for your local PBS/American masters schedule.

There will be interactive online screening, hosted by ITVS OVEE on the day of the March, Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 5 p.m., limited streaming on demand, new educational Initiatives by PBS LearningMedia and California Newsreel … and a James Baldwin website.

This is just the beginning. Back in 2010, when Ms. Thorsen and Mr. Dempsey were working with Martin Scorsese on his Fran Lebowitz documentary, Public Speaking — which included footage from their film on Baldwin — they discovered that some of the original 16mm film elements and video masters of Baldwin were damaged and in serious need of repair.

As a result, they founded the transmedia project and began raising funds. Thanks to a recent grant from the Ford Foundation, they have now raised over two-thirds of the total needed. Once the PBS / March on Washington events are over, they plan to: #1, restore the original film; #2, convert it to a web-accessible, digital, hi-def format; #3, release the newly restored digital Baldwin across a wide range of transmedia platforms.

Back in 1989, Ms. Thorsen and Mr. Dempsey co-produced the feature-length 16mm documentary, James Baldwin: The price of the ticket. An emotional portrait, a social critique, and a passionate plea for human equality, the film is a feast of archival footage. Without using narration, it allows James Baldwin to tell his own story: Exploring what it means to be born black, impoverished, gay and gifted — in a world that has yet to understand that “all men are brothers.”

During its first year of release, the film premiered on PBS/American Masters, received stellar reviews and awards, and was honored at festivals in over two-dozen countries — including Sundance, London, Berlin and Tokyo. Since then, repeated PBS broadcasts have reached millions of people.

The film has also been broadcast widely in Europe and Asia — and in 1998, an hour-long version was produced for French National Television. Now considered a documentary film classic, Baldwin was described as “Splendid” by Variety, “A video page-turner” by The San Francisco Chronicle, and “A haunting, beautifully made biography” by The Los Angeles Times. “Stays with you after the program ends,” said The New York Times. 

Their ultimate goal? To keep Baldwin’s message of brotherhood both relevant and accessible in the 21st century.

The website is: http://jamesbaldwinproject.org/index.html

[For now, the website is still a work-in-progress: Only the live pages will react when you click on the menu tabs; the other pages have yet to be built.]

For further information, call Karen Thorsen, 203-261-4747

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