sedition
project

 

about
the
film

 

see it
buy it

 

contacts &
mailing list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

Entangled in a distant war...

QT window

a nation lost sight of its highest values. Men and women who spoke out were punished. Their families were torn apart. In Montana, 79 persons were convicted of sedition, merely for criticizing the war effort or for refusing to prove their loyalty by buying war bonds. Some were sent to prison for up to 20 years.

This powerful, hour-long documentary traces the dramatic story of Montana's draconian WWI sedition law, the harshest law of its kind in the nation, and the model for a U.S. law passed shortly after. Through interviews with free speech experts, historians and descendants of the prisoners, the film shows how war hysteria and super-patriotism led to broken lives. Creative re-enactments help tell this compelling human drama, while contemporary footage shows the dramatic conclusion, the pardoning of all sedition prisoners by Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2006. Framed in the context of our First Amendment guarantee of free speech and free press, this cautionary tale demonstrates in clear and compelling terms what can happen when Americans give up their liberties in return for the promise of greater security.

Produced and directed in Montana by acclaimed filmmaker Gita Saedi Kiely and narrated by J.K. Simmons, Jailed For Their Words resonates in today's world and sounds a warning for tomorrow.

Meet the filmmakers...

Gita Saedi Kiely (Producer/Director): Gita is an award-winning producer, director and editor with more than 15 years' experience in documentary film. She was the Series Producer and story editor for Kartemquin Films' nationally acclaimed PBS series The New Americans -- a three-part, seven-hour series following five immigrant families' journey to and first years in the U.S. Prior to The New Americans, she served on producing teams for Channel 4 in the U.K., CBS and PBS in the U.S. and RTE in Ireland. Since The New Americans, Gita line-produced Reel Paradise, a feature documentary about independent film guru John Pierson and his family's adventure on a remote island in Fiji.

Since moving to Montana in 2003, Gita has made three films focused on the American West. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at The University of Montana School of Journalism where she teaches documentary film history and production courses. Her 2007 class's film recently won the Broadcast Educators Association's Best in Category Award for long-form documentary.

Clemens P. Work (Co-Producer): Clem came to The University of Montana in 1990 from U.S. News & World Report, where he was a senior editor. Before that, he was deputy director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C. He began his journalism career working for daily newspapers in the late 1960s in Southern California and in Denver, and obtained a law degree in 1975. Work teaches media law, reporting and other undergraduate and graduate courses at The University of Montana's School of Journalism. Work's first book, "Darkest Before Dawn: Sedition and Free Speech in the American West," was published in 2005 by University of New Mexico Press.

Greg Snider (Editor): Greg is a documentary and commercial filmmaker and editor who lives in Portland, Ore. His editing credits include The Real Dirt On Farmer John, which aired on PBS' Independent Lens, and was released for national theatrical distribution. Snider has also edited Purvis of Overtown, a feature documentary about acclaimed painter Purvis Young. The film won the Best Documentary Award from the Florida Film Festival and was featured in the International Documentary Association's Docuweek screenings in 2006. Snider's directorial debut, Ridin'& Rhymin'' about cowgirl poet Georgie Sicking, won the award for Best Film About the American West at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in 2005 and aired on Oregon and Wyoming PBS in 2006 The film was a Film Action Oregon sponsored project. He's currently editing the feature-length documentary Facing The Storm.

Nancy Cooper (Music Supervisor): Nancy is a member of the music faculty of the University of
Montana, where she teaches organ, harpsichord, and music theory. Her master's and doctoral degrees are from the Eastman School of Music. Nancy has served as music advisor for many public television
documentaries, most notably Ken Burns' "Jefferson." In addition to working as the music director for "Jailed for their Words," she is the pianist on the soundtrack.

Roll the credits...

funds provided by:

Grant and Debbie Schermer

The University of Montana Foundation

The University of Montana School of Journalism

Friends of Montana PBS

***

Produced & Directed by Gita Saedi Kiely

Co-Producer Clemens Work

Editors Greg Snider, Gita Saedi Kiely

Associate Producer Kimberly Cosgrove

 

Executive Producers:
Jerry Elijah Brown Grant Schermer Peggy Kuhr

Narrator
J.K. Simmons

Titles & Motion Effects
Greg Twigg

Camera/Sound
Ken Furrow

Music Supervisor
Nancy Cooper

 

Cue the music...

(stills and audio clips here)

 

Read the reviews...

dearUofMWhen we showed high school students a preview, here's how they reacted:

dearmoviepeople ireallylearned iwasamazed