Regarded as an independent among independents, Richard Broadman (1946 – 2000) was an uncompromising filmmaker who specialized in chronicling the American urban experience through oral history. His commitment to presenting the complexity of society’s problems from “the voices and tales of people not usually presented in the media” often left him outside standard documentary and political circles. The result was a powerful kind of film that neither pandered to sponsors nor demeaned the intelligence of the audience.
Many of Broadman’s films focus on presenting conflicting points of view – sparking dialogue on critical, often unpopular, issues – while still remaining accessible to general audiences. A resident of Boston, where many of his films, like the celebrated Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston, are set, Broadman also taught film history and ran his own film production and distribution company.
DER is proud to inherit this invaluable film collection, most of which are now available on DVD for the first time. The collection was produced for DER by Frank Aveni, with special thanks to Mia Saunders and Laurann Black.
“Richard Broadman’s documentary films are a revelation. They make visible the people and processes essential to modern American life while dazzling viewers with a panoply of rarely seen visual documents… Richard Broadman remains a pioneering hero among independent filmmakers. What is most notable is that Broadman seeks to document how cities actually work and he gets it right. His films are not abstract treaties on economic flows or violent populations but an unflinching probe of how people really live, and why. …Broadman’s body of work substantially expands the range of intellectual analyses required to consider America’s twentieth-century social history, particularly as it relates to urban development.”
— Real films to believe in: Richard Broadman, Karilyn Crockett, Visual Studies, Vol. 27, Iss. 1, 2012
Video: Interview with Richard Broadman from “Movie Loft & Company” on Boston’s WSBK-TV
Review: Real Films to Believe In: Richard Broadman (PDF)
Review: Documentary Film, Teaching, and the Accumulation of Sociological Insight (PDF)
Article: Remembering Richard Broadman by Holly Madden