‘Nova grad returns with homegrown documentary

Elana Starr



This weekend marks a homecoming for Villanova alumus Anthony Giacchino when the Cultural Film & Lecture Series screens his 2006 documentary, “The Camden 28.” This film, which opens the fall ’07 CFS, focuses on a nearly forgotten bit of local history: the 1971 break-in of a federal building in Camden, N.J., by 28 peace activists.

Graduating from Villanova University in 1992 with Bachelors of Arts in history and German, Giacchino received a Fulbright Grant to study history at the University of Freiburg in Germany. He eventually went to work for The History Channel as a freelance producer. He was responsible for two of The History Channel’s Sunday morning talk shows, “History Center” and “Hardcover History,” as well as the network’s primetime series “History vs. Hollywood.” He also produced specials covering topics from the dedication of the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. to the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

His first film, “The Camden 28,” is a poignant recollection of more than two dozen opponents of the Vietnam War, mostly members of the Catholic left (including four priests). Believing the war was “morally indefensible,” they attempted to break into and vandalize a Camden draft board office. Despite the fact that these protestors were nonviolent, they were charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property and interfering with the Selective Service system. If convicted, individual members of the so-called “Camden 28” faced up to 47 years in federal prison. Their trial lasted 63 days, and, despite pleading guilty, the jury acquitted them of all charges. Even more impressive, five weeks after their case ended, the draft was abolished.

Employing archival footage and talking heads, Giacchino’s film details the story of the defendants’ commitment, as well as the web of betrayal and lies that emerged at their trial.

While events in this film occurred more than 35 years ago, it’s not just a retelling of the past; it also speaks volumes about the ongoing conflict in Iraq. In fact, several of the 28 have joined Iraq War protest rallies.

“The Camden 28” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 & 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for all others. Giacchino will be the guest speaker at the Monday evening viewing only.

For more information, contact the communication department X9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the Villanova CFS website: www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu