HOW IT BEGAN
This film has been over 40 years in the making. It began for me, Lindy, when I discovered activist and filmmaker (No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger) David Loeb Weiss in his big, dusty house in Brooklyn "making a movie about Leon Trotsky." He was 87 years old then; he'd started shooting thirty years earlier.
It began for David, a lifelong Trotskyist of Communist parents, when he looked around and realized that the people who had known and worked with Trotsky were dying. In 1972, David received a Guggenheim fellowship to film Trotsky's comrades, secretaries, friends and relatives in Mexico, Europe, Turkey and the U.S. He assembled an extraordinary breadth of interviews, over forty in all, from French comrades-in-arms who knew Lenin and Trotsky during the revolution in 1917, to Trotsky's grandson (now the only surviving witness) who was thirteen when Trotsky was assassinated in 1940.
These people who exist now only on film, are the base of the movie. In beautiful color, some shot by Truffaut's cinematographer Walter Bal, they recount the moving details that bring a more private Trotsky to life.
That summer of 2002 in Brooklyn, David and I became close as I set to work cataloging and vaulting his precious negative. I also videotaped Weiss, charismatic and funny, with his own rich political history. Then at age 93, David passed away, leaving me his footage. Imagine, I had hours of over thirty mysterious people in 16 mm film negative which I had no way of viewing, and only a skeletal list of interviewees. Weiss himself had forgotten most of them. The work print was an unusable mess. I needed to digitize the negative but had no money.
Enter Suzi Weissman, Professor of Politics and dream collaborator. Mention a name, she knew all about them. Together we procured enough in private donations to have the footage digitized, synched, transcribed and translated.
Each step was a revelation. First, most of it looked gorgeous-- the negative had held up. The sound was clean and clear. We were excited to see and hear these interviews. Some like James P. Cannon and C.L.R James are legendary figures, a few were unknown even to Suzi.
With the translations, at last we could plumb the texture and depth of Weiss's interviews and what we found was amazing.
Risks and challenges
This film has been forty years in the making. Why? In film, it generally boils down to money. Our biggest challenge now is getting the funds to finish this important film in time for the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
I'm a professional screenwriter and, consulting with Suzi Weissman, have written a documentary script pulling together Weiss's extensive footage into a compelling narrative. So far, this documentary has been a labor of love. The money we raise in this campaign will fund the specialists needed to bring it to completion.
We must pay for:
Editorial work. We have just hired Christine Mills, a talented editor who will make the film sing. With color correction and special effects, this is our largest expense.
Archival footage: rights and research. Visual material is essential to crafting the moments described by our witnesses. Our archivist will find footage and stills and procure the rights.
Filming key interviews with experts. We will use experts sparingly, but in some sections they'll help to weave together loose threads of the story and illuminate the context.
Record voice-over narration and actors reading excerpts from Trotsky's writings.
Composer. We are fortunate to have award-winning composer Larry Groupé to bring a special passion and depth to the film with his music.
Sound Mixer. This makes the music and sound work together.
If you are reading this far, I think you already support the film so let me say here that we are open to donated services from talented professionals. If you are or if you know someone who is skilled in the above areas and interested in working on this film, please contact us on our website: www.trotskyproject.comLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)