Maine Masters — Film on Robert Shetterly and Americans Who Tell the Truth

Robert Shetterly, political artist and former president of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, and his project, Americans Who Tell the Truth: Models of Courageous Citizenship have become the subject of the latest episode in the Maine Masters film series directed by Richard Kane.  The film is entitled Our Children’s Future.

The film project was launched November 27, 2018 to document events surrounding the first time that Shetterly’s full collection of 238 portraits was displayed in public.  The exhibit, running through December 14, 2018, is sponsored by Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship Tanner Lecture series.  The November 29th lecture was comprised of a panel which included Shetterly and two of his subjects:  Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, of Flint, Michigan, the whistle blower who sounded the alarm about the high presence of lead in Flint’s drinking water; and Richard Bowen who blew the whistle on Citibank’s fraudulent subprime mortgage practices that helped lead to the US financial crisis of 2008. 

According to film director Kane, “One of Rob’s greatest contributions is how he models what Americans can do now to effect change.  He gives us the confidence to act.  People don’t have to stand by while the climate wreaks havoc on our planet.”

The film will bring new and wider attention to the importance of speaking truth to power, to have the courage to build a society where all people are respected, where hatred is rejected, where embracing diversity is the source of our strength.

Rob quotes Frederick  Douglass, one of his first portraits:

“Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed on them.”

This is the principle, the principle of moral courage, that runs throughout the struggle against slavery, against racism, for women’s rights, for workers rights, for indigenous rights, against child labor, for gender rights, for environmental rights.  It is our common humanity, our common dignity that will bring us together to fight for the rights and survival of all species.

See the trailerhttps://vimeo.com/300584518

The film is slated to be completed Winter 2020. We will be raising the money through January 2019 and will continue shooting throughout the year. If we are able to raise the funds quickly, the film is slated to be completed and in wide distribution six months before the 2020 presidential election.

If you are able to support this project financially, please send your tax deductible contribution to:

  • UMVA  c/o Jackie Bennett,Treasurer
  • PO Box 51                                                  
  • Walpole, ME 04573

(Please indicate Shetterly on memo line of check)

MAINE MASTERS REPORT — My Immigrant History

above: Jacob Kantrowitz

By Richard Kane,  Maine Masters Project Director

I think it’s important for any artist to figure out how to survive.  For my paternal grandfather Jacob Kantrowitz, a skilled tailor, he survived living in the Ukraine city of Kharkov by chopping off his large toe to avoid being sent to the front lines during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War.  The word had reached home from Jacob’s older brother in Manchuria that Tsar Nikolai II was sending Jews to the front lines only to be slaughtered.

Interestingly President Teddy Roosevelt mediated the negotiations that ended that war on September 5, 1905 in what became known as the Treaty of Portsmouth.  Sound familiar?  The talks were held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine!  A few months later my grandfather Jacob emigrated to New York in 1906 with my grandmother Ida Wooten. They were 19.

Jacob went to work for a thriving dressmaking business on the Lower East Side  and later, in The Bronx started Mr. K’s, his own tailoring business. His son, my father Murray, was the first to attend college (NYU) in the family, and after graduating dental school in 1941 he was drafted into World War II.  Upon his return in 1945 he changed his name to Kane at a time when a great many American Jews were seeking to blend in and in a real sense hide from anti-Semitism.

Recall that President Franklin Roosevelt during WWII turned back ships filled with Jews fleeing the Nazis hoping to reach the safety of our shores.  They were all subsequently incinerated in the Holocaust.  Si Kahn memorialized that piece of history with his song Lady of the Harbor that I’ve long wanted to use in a film about those times.  The immigrant is what has made this country strong.

Jacob Kantrowitz and grandson, Richard Kane

 

When I started editing film in graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia, I always felt I was following in my grandfather’s footsteps, cutting and trimming and sewing and creating a work of art.

 

 

So how have I learned to survive as a filmmaker in Maine while keeping all my fingers and toes?  Just as any artist, you have to get your work shown.  I learned a few years ago at the Points North Documentary Forum of the Camden International Film Festival that the key is through a publicist.  Easier said than done.  There are MANY more filmmakers than publicists.
But I did succeed in finding an extraordinary Outreach Director, Marga Varea, who has made all the difference in getting our last two films on Ashley Bryan and J. Fred Woell seen.  FYI March 29, 2018 we’re having a NYC Premiere of our latest film J. Fred Woell: An American Vision at the Museum of Arts and Design with a panel of icons of the American Crafts Movement.

Stay Tuned:

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There’s lots happening with the Maine Masters film series.  The BIG NEWS is that Geoffrey Leighton and Anita Clearfield have begun work on a docu-art film project about our own beloved Natasha Mayers: An Un-still Life.  Anita and Geoff thank the contributors to their successful Indiegogo campaign —  many of whom are UMVA members — and  hope to have the project completed by the end of the year.  Stay tuned for more Natasha magic in Maine!

Next Project:

Moving into the fundraising phase of a film Robert Shetterly: Americans Who Tell the Truth.  See the trailer:  https://vimeo.com/220552230

We are also creating a Vimeo portal to have all our Maine Masters available on Vimeo.com/ondemand  and am working with several teachers to create short versions that would be appropriate to use in schools and full length vimeos on demand for senior centers/retirement communities.