ALUMNUS' DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES VALUE OF OBJECTS IN POST-9/11 WORLD
After the 9/11 attacks, Jonathan Fein ’72, like many others, was moved to respond in some significant way. He and his partner, Brian Danitz (director of photography for Bowling for Columbine), came to realize that the task of preserving history as it unfolded was a substantial professional challenge to historians because they often “did not have the perspective to determine which objects would be valued in the future.” As he followed the historians in their work, Fein saw that it wasn’t just professional preservationists sifting out meaningful objects. Ordinary people were also rapt in the business of saving and transporting items to memorial sites. It was these everyday people that led Jonathan Fein on a five-year journey that would become the documentary Objects and Memory, an examination of basic human values, motivations, and response in extraordinary circumstances. Objects and Memory is a documentary film and educational initiative about the things in our lives and our museums that we most want to preserve.
Even with such rich and moving material, Fein’s biggest struggle has been fundraising. “It is particularly difficult,” he says, “to raise money for documentary films” because funders want to ensure that their grants are used for projects that reach a broad audience and have high impact. He anticipates, however, that Objects and Memory will do just that because of the film’s insights and the “evergreen nature of its subject matter.” Long into the future, Objects and Memory “will help people understand what is most important to them, both the intangible feelings and the tangible objects that represent them.” He fully expects the film to be seen on broadcast television, in film festivals, and in schools, libraries and museums. Fein is incredibly grateful for the support he has received thus far, but continues to seek resources that will enable him to finish the film and repay debts.
Objects and Memory was created in the Haverford College tradition that seeks to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants. Fein credits his Haverford experience with introducing him to extraordinary individuals who are similarly driven. In particular he would like to acknowledge John Whitehead ’43 “who has provided guidance and support from the early stages of the project,” as well as Mary Patterson McPherson (former Bryn Mawr College president) “who, as Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has offered advice and facilitated grants.”
Objects and Memory will be screened on June 2, 2007 at Haverford College’s Alumni Weekend. All alumni and friends of Haverford are welcomed and encouraged to attend this presentation of Jonathan Fein’s important and influential documentary.
— Janine Beaman