Amnesty or Exile?


A new (relatively speaking) film has recently been digitized and has been uploaded to the YouTube account. Although not produced by one of the ELCA’s predecessor church bodies, it was available for rental through their film libraries. As the 1974-75 Augsburg Publishing House Film Rental catalog states:

Amnesty or Exile? is an indepth study of amnesty. Includes interviews with deserters and draft resisters in Canada intercut with footage of Senator Ted Kennedy’s Congressional Hearing, interviews with Army spokesmen, parents of deserters and soldiers killed in action. Good for discussion groups.

Copyright 1973 by the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., produced by the Interfaith Committee on Draft and Military Information.

UPDATE: Here’s more information on the film from our finding aid for it under the Lutheran Film Associates:

Amnesty or Exile? is a revised version of an unfinished film titled The Exiles. The subject matter for this film pertained to issues surrounding the granting of amnesty to those who opposed their draft into military service during the Vietnam conflict. Marvin Bernstein produced the first version, which had a running time of 60 minutes, with assistance from Berkeley Studio of the United Church of Canada.

Lutheran Film Associates (LFA) involvement in this project began in June 1972.  Charles Lutz of the Lutheran Selective Service Information Office (LSSIO) of the Lutheran Council in the USA (LCUSA) contacted LFA’s Robert E.A. Lee to tell him about a film that Mr. Lutz believed could be very useful to churches in LCUSA in helping them administer their programs through LSSIO that dealt with issues surrounding the military draft and opposition or support of it. LFA viewed the film and believed it a well made film that it could improve by re-cutting it and reducing its running time to approximately 30 minutes.

In September 1972, LFA proposed to acquire from Marvin Bernstein all film footage, sound tracks, negatives, and edited sequences relating to the production The Exiles. It would also acquire rights to the film’s copyright and distribution and exhibition rights for the film. In return for these acquisitions, LFA would pay Mr. Bernstein $10,000, which the Interfaith Committee on Draft and Military Information supplied to LFA.  The United Presbyterian Church in the United States channeled the committee’s contribution through its Board of Christian Education and the committee was producer of the new version. LFA also provided funds for completion of the new version. Staff placed the figure for completing the film at $20,000, including the acquisition from Mr. Bernstein. LFA provided the remaining $10,000.

The reedited film provided a spectrum of points of view on the subject of opposition and support of the military draft.  The original film had a point of view that appeared to favor amnesty. One of the goals of the new film was to balance the points of view. LFA believed this could be accomplished by reediting and perhaps adding new material. Wes Adams served as editor on the project and finished his work in early 1973. The re-cut version had a running time of 37 minutes that comprised 33 minutes of the original film and 4 minutes of new material. It also had a new title, Amnesty or Exile?