A new film by filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane, The Manhattan Front: Women, anarchists, and spies conjure the fantastically true story of how America entered World War I is set to premiere in New York City on Sunday, November 11th, at the Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave, New York.
The Manhattan Front is a historical hybrid film illuminating an overlooked chapter of American history. Experimental filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane offers a the feature-length film blending fiction and rarely seen archival footage from the National Archives to tell a true story of America’s entry into the First World War. The film address issues of radical labor politics, munitions production, surveillance of citizens, and the domestic effects of war.
In 1915, a German saboteur arrived to Manhattan to interrupt the export of American munitions to Britain. He soon finds a collaborator in a wayward stevedore who unwittingly leads him to a group of labor anarchists. Sabotage and betrayal soon turn these bedfellows into agents of the other’s tragic end. In the spirit of a silent film from the era, this musical melodrama plays itself out through the interaction of archival images and the theatrical rendition of lives as they might have been lived.
Cathy Lee Crane is the recipient of the fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her award-winning films have screened at the Viennale, San Francisco International Film Festival, Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Cinematheque Francais, BFI, and Arsenal/Berlin. Her body of work received its first survey in 2015 as part of the American Original Now series at the National Gallery of Art. She is currently in post-production on Crossing Columbus, a documentary on the US/Mexico Borderlands supported by Fellowship residencies with the El Paso Cultural Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Research Center.
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