October Fury is a familiar story told from a new perspective. Rarely have documentaries on the Cuban missile crisis involved trips to Murmansk, St Petersburg, and Moscow. This is the story of four Soviet submarines carrying nuclear tipped torpedoes sailing towards Cuba. Under orders to resist any attempt to board their vessels, one boat is forced to the surface by the USS Blandy. When the destroyer’s guns turn towards the submarine, the Soviet captain gives out the order to flood the torpedo tube and prepare to fire. Knowing standard orders in October 1962, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara believes the United States are thirty-seconds from a full scale nuclear war.
The CIA commissioned this documentary detailing twenty-one years of captivity endured by two CIA officers shot down in 1952 on a classified mission over Manchuria. At the time the CIA was attempting to destabilize the newly installed communist government of Mao Tse Tung. The two men, John Downey and Richard Fecteau endured years in solitary confinement and for years their families were told they were dead. Upon their return they granted only one interview and it was intended for training purposes. The secrets they shared would never leave the CIA The film was originally intended to be shown to CIA recruits at Camp Perry, Virginia. Eventually the CIA Director, George Tenant declassified the film. Former senior CIA officers were interviewed including the Head of Clandestine service and the Director of Personnel. Chinese archives provided context and re-enactments of the ordeal brought the men’s account to life.
In October 1964 LBJ promised to keep American boys out of the Vietnamese civil war. “It’s not our fight” he assured the nation. Six months later he escalated American involvement in the conflict, which would be one of the most consequential and disastrous decisions of his presidency. What led to the transformation? The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to the announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history. The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history.
In the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US Strategic Bombing Survey arrived in Japan in late July 1945 to assess the impact of the two explosions. They brought with them a Hollywood quality film crew. What they witnessed was so disturbing that all the footage was classified “Top Secret” and locked away in the National Archives. Finally released in the late 1980’s the footage became the focal point of this documentary. Members of the film crew were located and they described sequences they hadn’t reviewed for nearly forty years. We go inside a hospital in Hiroshima where 15,00 patients were under the care of half a dozen doctors. The film crew documented the unique impact of the bomb. Keloid formations that appeared a month after the bombing and reflected the side of the body exposed to the blast.
The film reveals the last best kept secret of the Vietnam War. Hỏa Lò Prison was used by the Northern Vietnamese to hold and torture American POWs. The prison was sarcastically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, and held many aviators who had been shot down, including prominent figures such as John McCain and Jim Stockdale. Throughout their captivity prisoners inside the Hanoi Hilton were in contact with the CIA through ever more sophisticated methods of communication. It started with coded messages in letters, and developed into encrypted text hidden smuggled into the camp inside dried fruit. The ability to establish communications with the prisoners led to a secret rescue mission that remained classified for forty years.
Operation Zorro was the campaign undertaken by the FBI to monitor and destroy MLK. After the March on Washington, the head of Division Five, the FBI section responsible for mounting surveillance on “domestic terrorists” reported to Hoover that King was “by far the most dangerous man in America.” A recently declassified internal surveillance investigation, conducted in 1976 by the Church and Pike Committees exposed the campaign to destroy King. As outlined in a Brookings Institute essay about the committee findings “Their hearings exposed secret, arguably illegal wiretapping, bugging, and harassment of American citizens, including Supreme Court justices, reporters, and government officials, all in the name of collecting intelligence about threats to national security. The most notorious case, first exposed in the 1960s and fully documented by the Church Committee, was the wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. by the NSA and by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who believed him to be part of a Communist conspiracy.”
A film that captures the drama of King’s final year. From his speech at Riverside Church in New York where he came out against the Vietnam War to his dream of leading a Poor People’s March from Mississippi to Washington DC. We place the legacy in the context of the state of race relations in America today. Visiting a homeless shelter in King’s birthplace in Atlanta, the projects in South Central LA - site of the 1964 Watts riots, and finally to the town of Marks Mississippi which became the starting point for King’s final campaign. Civil Rights leaders such as Joseph Lowry, John Lewis and Andrew Young reflect on King’s life but also the far more radical final message that demanded both racial and economic justice.
It was a journey to the most remote military build up of the Cold War. An island chain stretching over a thousand miles across the Bering Sea from the Alaskian Peninsula towards Russia. In 1987, as Soviets troops threatened to invade Western Europe, the Pentagon drew up plans for a counter offensive that involved attacking Russia on its Eastern flank - to catapult the Aleutian Islands into the front lines of a possible World War III. An examination of the military build up along the Aleutian chain. Secretly American forces were preparing to invade the Soviet eastern front if Russian tanks rolled into Western Europe. The production team was given exclusive access to the battle plan, became the first television crew to witness the military build-up and were taken along the Aleutian Islands to the furthest outpost on Attu.