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Boston Public Library to Host Film Premiere for Ric Burns' The Pilgrims on November 23, 2015

November 18, 2015

Boston Public Library

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The Pilgrims, a new film by Ric Burns narrated by celebrated actor Oliver Platt, will premiere at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library on Monday, November 23, at 6:00 p.m. Burns will conduct a question and answer session with the audience following the full screening of the movie.

Produced by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, and Steeplechase Films, in association with the BBC and CTVC, this two-hour documentary endeavors to tell the true story of the Pilgrims, a small group of religious radicals whose determination to establish a separatist religious community planted the seeds for America’s founding.

Arguably one of the most fateful and resonant events of the last half millennium, the Pilgrims’ journey west across the Atlantic in the early 17th century is a seminal, if often misunderstood episode of American and world history. The Pilgrims will explore the forces, circumstances, personalities, and events that converged to exile the English group in Holland and eventually propel their crossing to the New World; a story universally familiar in broad outline, but almost entirely unfamiliar to a general audience in its rich and compelling historical actuality.

The Pilgrims also features a gripping performance by the late actor Roger Rees as William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Plantation for more than 30 years and who wrote the definitive history of the early colony. Drawn from Bradford’s written account, Rees’s monologue provides the spine of the Pilgrims’ narrative, from the early formation of a separatist Protestant sect in England to a colony in the New World whose hard-fought success after a decade would trigger a massive influx of colonists throughout New England. Rees’s performance was his last on film before he passed away on July 10, 2015.

The Pilgrims is written and directed by Ric Burns, edited by Li-Shin Yu, and produced by Leigh Howell, Robin Espinola, Bonnie Lafave, and Ric Burns, and with cinematography by Buddy Squires, ASC, Tim Cragg, Michael Chin, Brian Heller, Stephen McCarthy, Allen Moore, and Anthony Savini. Music for The Pilgrims is by Brian Keane. Senior Historical Advisor on the project is Nick Bunker. Executive Producers for WETA are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan.

The film premier will take place at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square on Monday, November 23, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon. The screening is free to attend, and seats will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. Burns will take questions from the audience following the film screening.

The movie will also air on American Experience on PBS on Tuesday, November 24, at 8:00 p.m. EST, and air again on Thanksgiving Day at 9:30 p.m. EST (check local listings). American Experience is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston. To learn more about the film, please see:

About Steeplechase Films

Since its founding in 1989 by Ric Burns, Steeplechase Films has produced more than 30 hours of award-winning humanities programming for prime-time national broadcast on public television, including “Coney Island,” “The Donner Party,” “The Way West,” “New York: a documentary film,” “Ansel Adams,” “Eugene O’Neill,” “Andy Warhol,” “We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision.” “Into the Deep: America, Whaling and the World,” and “Death and the Civil War.” For these projects Steeplechase Films has garnered fourteen national Emmy Award nominations, five Emmy Awards, three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, and the Erick Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit