Beachland Ballroom and Tavern to Host Benefit Screening of ‘Fire in the Heartland’

A documentary film about the brave young people who “stood up to speak their minds against social injustice in some of our nation’s most turbulent and transformative years,” Fire in the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America screened five years ago at the 2010 Cleveland International Film Festival. The movie has since been recut, and the producers are the midst of raising money to secure music rights so that the film can be distributed. The current edited version that now clocks in at 99 minutes was just shown as part of the 45th Anniversary of May 4th. It screens again at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, at the Beachland Ballroom as part of a benefit screening designed to help pay for the music rights.  

“We are inviting film fans, political activists and human rights advocates who are working on the Black Lives Matter issues of today to all come and get enlightened about the bonds created in the ‘60s around civil rights and anti-war issues and anyone who can to donate or spread the word about this film,” says Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber in a press release.

The filmmakers are currently in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign that expires on May 17. Producer Bill Whitaker, a former SDS activist and Akron attorney, will be at the Beachland screening to discuss and answer questions after the screening. Some 20 voices of those people at Kent who lived through the movement are included in the movie. That list includes musicians such as Gerry Casale and Chris Butler and well-known former SDS radicals Mark Rudd and Bernardine Dohrn. In a statement, filmmaker Danny Miller talks about the inspiration for the film:

“I was a student at Kent State University from 1968 to 1970,” he says. “I grew up there and then. I celebrated and suffered the events of the 1960s and 70s with my friends and colleagues who are featured in this film. I can’t adequately explain what it was like to live through it. How does one explain an era when music, art, literature, and politics were transformative and at times, yes, revolutionary; when fathers were too often silent and angry; when mothers and wives were too often oppressed; when brothers and friends were fighting, killing, and dying in ways that were violent beyond any rational extreme; when kids were led through practice drills for nuclear war; when gays were cast as monsters; when the crudest most racist 'N' word jokes were common; when young blacks were beaten and murdered for being black and young whites were threatened for wearing long hair or short dresses, or listening to the wrong (black rock and roll) kind of music. Where at the same time that very music made its way to transistor radios, TVs, juke boxes and school dances; where Allen Ginsberg was reciting 'Howl,' Jackson Pollock was challenging artistic convention, Chuck Berry was creating rock and roll, and Bob Dylan was speaking to everyone in a poetic 'people' language that proclaimed that Emmet Till deserved dignity, masters of war were criminals and the times they were a changing.”
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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