What would happen if the minister of an Omaha, Nebraska, Lutheran church with an all-white congregation were to challenge his parishioners to interact with a nearby black congregation? Today, the faithful would undoubtedly reach out as the “Christian” thing to do. But things were not that simple in the 1960s. At the height of the civil rights movement, Lutheran Film Associates commissioned filmmaker William C. Jersey to record the sensitive and highly volatile discussion from both sides of the racial divide. This powerful documentary builds from a minister's idealistic notion to a dramatic, resonant conclusion.
The evening featured an onstage discussion with producer-director William C. Jersey.
William C. Jersey
For over forty years Bill Jersey has been producing documentaries for broadcast television. His body of work exemplifies a life-long commitment to the exploration of important social issues on American television. Jersey stretches the limits of the television documentary by combining cinema verité style (he was one of its early pioneers) with compassionate and revealing interviews.
Mr. Jersey brings to his television audience a uniquely personal and intimate perspective through his portrayal of a broad spectrum of people, ranging from the most powerful to the most disenfranchised among us. The skill and integrity he brings to his work has earned him a well-deserved, highly regarded place as an independent producer of documentaries for television. It is perhaps noteworthy that this long span of documentary work was preceded by a single job in the dramatic feature film world: Mr. Jersey began his career as Art Director of “The Blob,” the classic science fiction movie starring Steve McQueen.
Monday Nights with Oscar is a monthly event in New York City.
“One of the best documentaries I ever saw in my life. I don’t think there has ever been a better civil rights broadcast, and I am immodest enough to think I have produced a few pretty good ones of my own. It was a magnificent broadcast...”
– Fred Friendly, Ford Foundation (former President, CBS News)
“The film has an advantage that could well be the touchstone of enlightened TV. "A Time for Burning" first felt deeply about what it wanted to say and then had the artistry to say it well. But above all it cared, and the radiance of this concern reached home. The most accomplished and sensitive hour of television this season...”
– Jack Gould, New York Times
Produced by William C. Jersey. Directed by William C. Jersey, Barbara Connell. Quest Productions; Pathé Contemporary Films. Black and white. 1967. 35mm. 58 minutes.
Academy Award® nominee: Documentary Feature