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Sacco and Vanzetti

 

Winner: Best Historical Film award
from the American Historical Association!

What the critics are saying:

"Peter Miller's spellbinding documentary SACCO AND VANZETTI is a trenchant and richly detailed chronicle of the notorious, 20s-era murder trial. A triumphant feature filmmaking debut." – Reel.com

"The case of two Italian-born anarchists, executed for a murder they almost surely didn't commit, remains the definitive, scary myth of the promise of America snuffed by fear and loathing. It's cleansing to see the facts laid out with intimacy and rigor, and the film earns the comparison it makes to the squelching of due process for some of today's terror suspects. The difference is that Americans during the '20s took to the streets to protest the railroading of two innocent men. Would that happen now?" - Entertainment Weekly (grade "A")

"Absolutely engrossing. This riveting new film by director Miller masterfully revives the past. Miller's obvious passion and dedication shine throughout." - Chicago Tribune

"Peter Miller's labor-of-love docu does a superb job of condensing an overwhelming mass of documentation, archival imagery and artistic representation into a concise yet passionate history lesson whose relevance could not be timelier." - Variety

“Talking heads ranging from Arlo Guthrie to Howard Zinn, eloquent paintings by Ben Shahn, and archival film footage bolster the film's airtight case against the prosecutors, making them seem persecutors, shaming the America they claimed to be defending. SACCO AND VANZETTI is trenchant, impassioned advocacy.” – AM New York

"Peter Miller sets out to show that the infamous murder trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was one of the most alarming and shameful incidents of social and political injustice in America’s history, and he succeeds admirably. SACCO AND VANZETTI should be requisite viewing anyone who might be unfamiliar with the case and its place in American history." – New York Press

"A wonderful film, as timeless as the struggle for human justice, as relevant as today's headlines." – Ken Burns

"The film lays bare the cruel machinations of state power, disdained by Sacco and Vanzetti in life and, ironically, illustrated by them in death. The story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti remains a clarion call for strict judicial oversight and the fierce protection of civil liberties." – In These Times

"Miller realizes that the political passions fueled by Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s are supremely pertinent to our own era's democratic crises. Anti-immigrant paranoia, threats to civil liberties, and rigged courtrooms are far from new. The film reminds a new generation that these inequities became catalysts for an international mass movement in the early part of the twentieth century." – Cineaste

"Considering the gap on this chapter of U.S. History, this superb production is a milestone." - El País (Spain)

"Essential and disturbingly of-the-moment. A passionate and moving case for the men's innocence and inspiring dignity." – Newsday

“It shocks in two ways: it shows us how recently, relatively speaking, racial and political prejudices were openly allowed to smirch justice, and it makes us take a look at the vitality of liberalism today...Peter Miller brings into new being a story that it is still healthfully discomfiting to remember.” – The New Republic

“Miller makes his film soar by keeping our attention focused on the defendants. For Sacco and Vanzetti were extraordinary men. Sacco and Vanzetti ... force us to recommit ourselves to the struggle for human liberation. For if their agony was their triumph, it can and must be ours as well. SACCO AND VANZETTI is a must see.” – Monthly Review

"Miller should be commended for his determination to craft this well known story without bombast and sensation, but rather with intelligence and compassion." – Pop Matters

“Excellent…this compelling and powerful production can serve as a graceful elegy to the doomed men who were murdered by their adopted homeland.” – Film Threat

“Packed with information…It scarcely needs to be said how much this case has to do with contempt for foreigners, legal injustice, and xenophobic terror.” – Village Voice

"In his disturbing new documentary, director Peter Miller exhumes the Sacco and Vanzetti case and gives it the thorough autopsy it deserves. SACCO AND VANZETTI is an important film at an important time, and an important reminder of how far we have to go." – Valley Advocate

"A first-rate, engrossing documentary. The parallels with today are chilling and depressing." – Flaunt Magazine

 

Thumbnail Pictures


SACCO AND VANZETTI brings to life the story of two Italian immigrant anarchists who were accused of a murder in 1920, and executed in Boston in 1927 after a notoriously prejudiced trial. 

The ordeal of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti came to symbolize the bigotry and intolerance directed at immigrants and dissenters in America, and millions of people in the U.S. and around the world protested on their behalf.  Decades later, the story continues to have great resonance, as America once again grapples with issues of civil liberties and the rights of immigrants.

SACCO AND VANZETTI dramatically interweaves the political and personal stories of the two men and their seven-year legal ordeal. The powerful prison writings of Sacco and Vanzetti are read by actors John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub.  A chorus of passionate commentators propels the narrative, including Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, Arlo Guthrie, and a number of older people with personal connections to the story. 

Through the tragic story of Sacco and Vanzetti, and the inspiring images of those who keep their memories alive, the film presents a universal – and very timely – tale of official injustice and human resilience.

88 minutes, U.S.A.


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