Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"Red Metal" documentary to be shown at Calumet Theatre Dec. 6, Finnish American Heritage Center Dec. 8

By Michele Bourdieu (with information from Michigan Tech Archives and Finlandia University)

Poster for the PBS premiere of the documentary film, Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, by Emmy award-winning producer Jonathan Silvers and Saybrook Productions. The film will be shown at the Calumet Theatre at 7 p.m.on Friday, Dec. 6, and at the Finnish American Heritage Center at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8. (Poster courtesy Steve Lehto)

CALUMET -- The premiere of Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, a documentary film by Emmy award-winning producer Jonathan Silvers and Saybrook Productions, will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Calumet Theatre. Admission is free. Donations are welcome and will go to support the Calumet Theatre and the Michigan Tech Archives.

In Calumet's Lakeview Cemetery last year, filmmakers Bob Lee, left, and Jonathan Silvers of Saybrook Productions Ltd. film footage for their documentary, Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, which will premiere on PBS Dec. 17, 2013. Author Steve Lehto has been a consultant for the film. (File photo © and courtesy Steve Lehto)

Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 focuses on the 100th anniversary of an epic labor strike that devastated Michigan’s Copper Country and made a lasting impact on the American labor movement with the Italian Hall Disaster that left 73 people dead. The tragedy was immortalized by Woody Guthrie in his ballad "1913 Massacre," performed in the film by Steve Earle.

Narrated by Richard Harris, the film traces the Copper Country strike from its hopeful start to that tragic conclusion. Using more than 100 images from the rich historic collections of the Michigan Tech Archives, Red Metal explores the intensifying battle between organized labor and corporate power, as well as related issues of immigration and technology.

The film will have its television premiere on PBS at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. (Individual PBS stations may choose to air it at a different time.)

Here is a preview of the film:

Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 from Jonathan B. Silvers on Vimeo. Appearing in this clip are Larry Lankton, Michigan Tech professor and historian; Davey Holmbo, Calumet Theatre director; Alison (Kim) Hoagland, Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission chairperson; and Steve Lehto, author, attorney and historical advisor to the film. (Video posted here with permission.)

Steve Lehto, historical advisor to the film, to conduct Q and A session

Following the film at the Calumet Theatre, there will be a Q and A session with Steve Lehto, historical advisor to the film, author, and attorney. Among his books are
Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913 (Second Edition, 2013) and Michigan’s Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton (2009).

Lehto made several trips to the Copper Country with the filmmakers and acted as their historical consultant for the documentary.

In addition to his research and writing, Lehto taught law and history at the University of Detroit for ten years. Lehto's knowledge of law and his research into court proceedings and legal documents add interest to his books on Copper Country history. He recently gave several presentations locally on the 1913 Strike and the Italian Hall disaster.

On August 14, 2013, Lehto spoke at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine at an event sponsored by Adams Township School District Foundation, Inc., and the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center.

Here are some video clips from that presentation:

At his presentation in Atlantic Mine on Aug. 14, 2013, Steve Lehto, author of Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913, speaks about the Italian Hall and causes of the 1913 Copper Miners' Strike. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)


Continuing his presentation, Lehto speaks about the strike parades, Big Annie Clemenc and other strike leaders.

In this video clip, Lehto describes the Italian Hall disaster and what happened when someone yelled a false alarm of "Fire!"

Steve Lehto, along with others who appear in the Red Metal documentary, will also be present for a discussion following the Finnish American Heritage Center's screening of the film at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.

The screening is free and open to the public; donations are appreciated. All proceeds from Sunday's event will support the Finnish American Heritage Center and Historical Archive at Finlandia University.

For more information, call (906) 487-7302.

Editor's Note: See also the Nov. 18, 2013, MLive article about Steve Lehto's role in this film, "Former Flint DJ promotes documentary showcasing centennial of tragic Michigan event," by Scott Atkinson.

No comments: