The Los Angeles Beat As with the best films about filmmaking and filmmakers the pleasures of PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA, Peter Miller’s wonderful addition to what is becoming one of the preeminent bodies of work in current documentary cinema, are multi-layered. And as the narrative of this profoundly moving film unfolds it is difficult to sort out whether the wonderment is more from the story itself, the beauty with which it is told or the drama and suffering of the world war within which it takes place.
Forward A documentary gem
Dallas Film Now A lovingly crafted homage to screenwriter Robert Riskin and his team of Hollywood artists who assisted in the war effort by producing and spreading our own propaganda films immediately after liberating certain countries. Initially – and rightfully – distrustful of the Allied forces, Riskin’s films of everyday life in America… helped to lessen the citizen’s unease… PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA touches deeply on two of my favorite subjects – World War II and the movies – which only endeared the documentary to my heart and many festival goers as well.
The Jewish Week Miller wisely chooses Riskin as his point of entry into the subject, not only because as a Jewish-American Riskin had a lot at stake in the war and its aftermath, but because as a veteran of a particular moment in Hollywood history, Riskin brought an unusual skill set to the task of introducing the rest of the world to the still relatively unfamiliar American way(s) of life. Add to that Riskin’s winning personality and eloquence, and the story of his courtship of and marriage to Fay Wray, and you have a splendid armature for what might otherwise have been just another piece of Hollywood Americana.
This Week In New York Together, PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A JEEP shed light on a fascinating aspect of what the country believed itself to be and what its hopes and dreams were for the future.
Unseen Films You’ll forgive me if this is brief because the film is nigh impossible to critique. A breezy, no nonsense film it tells you everything you need to know about the films and why their shunting to a back alley of film history is a real shame.
Santa Fe New Mexican PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA is especially timely, as politicians and citizens argue over immigration and refugee issues in the wake of terrorist attacks and civil wars raging outside of our borders, as well as the very nature of what it means to be an American.
Huffington Post One of the documentaries featured in the 35th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival focuses on the cinematic propaganda machine created by the United States Office of War Information. The agency’s efforts aimed at domestic audiences were obviously intended to support the war effort. What most people don’t know is that the OWI’s newsreels were produced under the leadership of screenwriter Robert Riskin (won an Oscar in 1935 for It Happened One Night) and was a frequent collaborator with director Frank Capra. Riskin was also married to Fay Wray (the star of 1933’s King Kong). Without a doubt, the favorite OWI film shown around the world was 1943’s THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A JEEP. Narrated by John Lithgow, Peter Miller’s documentary, PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA, pays tribute to the work of Riskin and the OWI’s secret film unit.
48 Hills (San Francisco): If you are a fan of Frank Capra’s greatest films then you unknowingly are a fan of the Oscar winning screenwriter, Robert Riskin. The dynamic duo of Capra and Riskin swept all the main categories at the Oscars in 1935 for It Happened One Night (1934), a feat only two other films in history have done, and continued to churn out some of the most important “All-American” films of the Depression including Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and You Can’t Take It With You (1938) followed by lesser known masterpieces: Meet John Doe(1941), Lady for a Day (1933) and American Madness (1932). Understandably, both were called on to help “the good fight” of WWII (as were other giants at the time like John Ford and Orson Welles). While many people have heard of Frank Capra’s flag-waving Why We Fight propaganda films, made to counterbalance Adolph Hitler’s movies like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), very few Americans have ever heard of Robert Riskin’s decidedly different approach to pro-American sentiments. Talk about a screening not to miss!