by Gary Wien
One of the things I love is when filmmakers turn to their own backyards to discover rather incredible pieces of history that have largely been forgotten. Director Anthony Giacchino does just that with "The Camden 28", a documentary about 28 people who risked everything to protest the war in Vietnam. Their goal was to break into a federal building in Camden and destroy draft records. Among the 28 were four Catholic priests and one Lutheran Minister. They were all taught how to do things like pick locks by a man who turned out to be an informant for the FBI. Ironically, it was the informant who helped the group escape jail time. The story has so many twists and turns it proves the old adage that the truth is stranger than fiction. It also shows how sometimes we forget the stories that should always be remembered. The acquittals in this case represented the first complete legal victory for the antiwar movement in five years of similar draft board actions. This helped signify a change in the country's attitude towards the peace movement. And, it all happened in New Jersey.
"The Camden 28" is the first feature film by Giacchino. It has been playing in select theaters across the world for the past few months and will be shown nationally on PBS on September 11, 2007. Upstage Magazine had a chance to speak with the former Burlington County resident about the film.