The Seminal Protest of 1970s Environmental Activism
Broadcast on Public Television
Directed by Robbie Leppzer and Phyllis Joffe
80 minutes • 1978/2007 (Digitally Remastered Version)
In April 1977, the small coastal town of Seabrook, New Hampshire became an international symbol in the battle over atomic energy. Concerned about the dangers of potential radioactive accidents, over 2,000 members of the Clamshell Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups, attempted to block construction of a nuclear power plant in Seabrook. 1,414 people were arrested in that civil disobedience protest and jailed en masse in National Guard armories for two weeks.
Filmed in a video-verité style, SEABROOK 1977 chronicles the dramatic events which made world headlines and sparked the creation of a grassroots antinuclear power movement across the United States. Scenes of the nonviolent demonstration and subsequent internment are interwoven with interviews with participants on all sides of the event, including local Seabrook residents, antinuclear activists, New Hampshire’s pro-nuclear Governor Meldrim Thomson, police and utility officials.
The video vividly documents the unfolding events as people march with banners and backpacks across the tidal marshes onto the construction site, erect a colorful tent city, and conduct on-site negotiations with the governor and police. After the mass arrests at the nuclear site, the scene changes to inside the armories, where the video follows the extraordinary experiences of the largest group of U.S. citizens incarcerated since the Vietnam war protests.
SEABROOK 1977 tells the story of this seminal event of 1970's environmental activism and shows people making history from the grassroots.
As environmental struggles continue to heat up over 40 years later across the United States and around the world, the experiences of 1970s grassroots anti-nuclear activists are more relevant than ever.
"SEABROOK 1977 is an invaluable historical document. It portrays one of those events in American history omitted from our textbooks but which is an important part of the ongoing struggle of the people in this country for a healthy society. The film manages to capture not only the sights of an extraordinary action, but the voices of ordinary people expressing their most personal feelings about one of the critical issues of our time."
—Howard Zinn, author of A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
"A political and environmental drama. SEABROOK 1977 is a powerful document which should stand up well over the years."
—Rob Okun, VALLEY ADVOCATE
"A potent catalyst for social action. A fascinating educational and emotional experience that left me feeling that at last I understood exactly what happened at Seabrook. SEABROOK 1977 is full of surprises. Not only does it document the events—it also makes them meaningful. Above all, it never loses sight of the essential humanity of all the individuals involved."
—Monica Faulkner, AMHERST MORNING RECORD
"Superb directing. SEABROOK 1977 shows why Seabrook became legend."
—William Scaife, SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN
RECOMMENDED SUBJECT AREAS
Environmental Studies • Environmental and Ecological Issues • Energy and Ecology • US Energy Policy • American Studies • Political Science • Sociology • American History • Communications • Philosophy • Politics & Government • Contemporary Social Movements • Social Change • Media and Contemporary Culture • Documentary Film Studies