FILMMAKER -- Developed with the support of a 2013 Guggenheim Creative Arts Fellowship, The Manhattan Front is experimental filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane’s first feature-length narrative film in a career spanning over two decades. True to Crane’s hybrid art film roots, though, The Manhattan Front melds melodramatic acting on silent-film-styled sets with newly digitized archival footage of daily life in New York City and on the front lines during World War 1. Via this unconventional approach Crane presents the true story of how a German saboteur’s plans to prevent American munitions from reaching Britain during a period of official U.S. neutrality became entangled with the progressive labor movement of legendary activist Elisabeth Gurley Flynn, resulting in consequences that arguably reverberate to this very day.
“Early on in my graduate program at San Francisco State, I made two short films (Sketches after Halle and The Girl from Marseilles) that were interested in finding the absented female subject and giving them voice,” Crane says. “The fact that I have Simone Weil and Elisabeth Gurley Flynn is because these two historically lived realities are still obscure.”