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Acclaimed filmmaker Rory Kennedy will speak at WSRE

Posted by Mary Riker on

Pensacola, FL, April 15, 2015—WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, will present Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer Rory Kennedy at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19 as part of the station’s Public Square Speakers Series. The free event will be held at the WSRE Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio.

Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam” documentary, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated to win the Academy Award for Documentary Feature at the Oscars this year.

“Last Days in Vietnam” chronicles the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, American officers on the ground faced a moral dilemma: follow official policy and evacuate U.S. citizens and their dependents only, or ignore orders and save the men, women, and children they had come to value and love in their years in Vietnam. At the risk of their careers and possible court-martial, a handful of individuals took matters into their own hands. Engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations, they waged a desperate effort to evacuate as many South Vietnamese as possible.

On Tuesday, April 28, “Last Days in Vietnam” makes its national television premiere as a PBS/AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presentation, locally airing at 8 p.m. on WSRE. The broadcast anchors a week of PBS programming about the Vietnam War in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.

Along with acclaimed documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, Kennedy is co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Productions. She has produced, directed and/or written more than 30 highly acclaimed documentaries and is recognized for films that tackle issues of human rights, mental illness, poverty, domestic abuse, political corruption and drug addiction.

Her film “American Hollow,” about the rural existence of a poor Appalachian family, attracted attention from film critics and the public in 1999. She also directed and produced the Emmy-nominated series “Pandemic: Facing AIDS,” which premiered in 2002 at the Barcelona World Aids Conference and became a five-part series on HBO.

Kennedy is also well known for her films “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” (2007), “Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House” (2008), “Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech” (2009) and “Bobby Fischer Against the World” (2011).

At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, she premiered the film “Ethel,” a feature length documentary on the life of her mother Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy, which was nominated for five Emmy awards.

In addition to her role as an independent documentary filmmaker, Kennedy is considered a masterful story teller and compelling speaker devoted to taking on the world’s most pressing social and human rights issues.

Her talk on “Last Days in Vietnam” will be the second event of WSRE’s new Public Square Speakers Series, which launched in February with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and bestselling author, Rick Bragg.

The Public Square Speakers Series presents personalities known for their contributions to education, the arts, sciences or media for public conversations on noteworthy topics and important issues. Events are open to the public; admission is free. Reservations are requested, but not required. Visit to learn more.

Photo Note: Rory Kennedy—Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and producer/director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Last Days in Vietnam”—will be speaking at the WSRE Amos Studio on Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m.

Media Relations Contact:
Mary Riker
(850) 484-1211