Guggenheim Productions, Giants in Docs City

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While some big hollywood films and productions have come to Washginton, D.C. to shoot big blockbuster fare, the real work has to do with all the docs that come out of here. The capital city should really be called doc’s city because of the sheer number of documentaries that our amazing film community produces. Lots of hard work goes into each of these often films, from pre-production and shooting to editing, transcription and post production.  One of the biggest companies in the field, Guggenhiem Productions has been in the biz for more than 50 years and produced over 500 titles.

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Their founder Charles Guggenhiem wanted to be known as a storyteller and sought to create a video production company that had the goal of telling powerful stories with a profound effect on the viewer.  He’s received are several academy awards for his films including Nine from Little Rock, about integration in Arkansas. He’s also notable for being one of the first to employ documentary style video production on American Political Campaigns. Starting with Robert Kennedy and George McGovern, he revealed the character of the candidates in an affirmative way and let the issues speak for themselves.

Guggenhiem passed away after a battle with cancer 2002 but not before spending the last 6 months of his life finishing the film Berga: Soldiers of Another War.

The film tells the story of his fellow American infantryman who were captured and sent to a Nazi slave labor camp during World War 2. Even when his health was fading, he completed the film overseeing all final aspects including  logging, editing, transcription and completed post production. Today his daughter Grace serves as an executive producer for many of  the historical documentaries to come out of the company.

One of the amazing things the Guggenheim Productions prides itself on is it’s dedication to history and using the narrative form of documentary to keep it alive for future generations. To that end, they work with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences/Academy Film Archive to preserve critical titles from the holdings. They have also partnered with National Archives to create the Charles Guggenhiem Center for Documentary Film at the National Archives. Not only does the center celebrate the work of Guggenhiem but also honors other documentarians who have made important differences with their work.

Please check out Guggenheim Productions at http://www.gpifilms.com/index.html

 

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