Dear President Obama

Movies that Matter Beacon



filmmaker Joel Katz and special guest Michael Meeropol

 Friday, March 31, 2017

  Doors Open  7 pm

Film 7:30 pm

First Presbyterian Church of Beacon

50 Liberty Street,  Beacon, NY

McKinley Hall.

No Admission Charge: Donations Accepted

Discussion and Refreshments

Friday, June 10, 2016


Friday,  April 28, 2017

Joel Katz will also preview 17minutes of his latest work in progress.

In the lives that convene at a single bus stop a whole world of stories can be found. The People of the #1 Bus uses a small sociological microcosm – a bus stop on an industrial highway in New Jersey – to launch a timely and intimate examination of the lives of the ‘working poor’ in America.  An interwoven series of portraits of the lives, pursuits, trials, and dreams of the riders, The People of the #1 Bus portrays people we meet at the bus stop in their workplaces, homes, and day-to-day lives. (17min, preview).

Joel Katz filmmaker and educator, is chair of the Media Arts Department of New Jersey City University in Jersey City.

Dear President Obama

Friday, June 10, 2016

STRANGE FRUIT explores the history and legacy of a song unique in the annals of American music. Best-known from Billie Holiday's haunting 1939 rendition, the song "Strange Fruit" is a harrowing portrayal of the lynching of a black man in the American South.

The film tells a dramatic story of America's past by using one of the most influential protest songs ever written as its epicenter. The saga brings us face-to-face with the terror of lynching as it spotlights the courage and heroism of those who fought for racial justice when to do so was to risk ostracism and livelihood if white - and death if black. It examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor, the Left and popular culture that would give rise to the civil rights movement.

While many people assume that the song "Strange Fruit" was written by Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in the late 1930s. Meeropol and his wife Anne are also notable because they adopted Robert and Michael Rosenberg, the orphaned children of the executed communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

"Strange Fruit" was first performed at a New York teachers' union meeting and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billie Holiday to the writer. Holiday's record label refused to record the song but Holiday persisted and recorded it on a specialty label instead. The song was quickly adopted as the anthem for the anti-lynching movement. The haunting lyrics and melody made it impossible for white Americans and politicians to continue to ignore the Southern campaign of racist terror. (According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, between 1882 and1968, mobs lynched 4,743 persons in the United States, over 70 percent of them African Americans.)

DRAMATIC ESCAPE is a 90 minute documentary that transports viewers into the lives of maximum security prisoners at Sing Sing as they mount a stage production of A Few Good Men. From auditions through curtain call, the men reveal their personal stories, their everyday struggles and the importance of the arts in their journeys.