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Documentary on Quakers will have television premier on WHYY


“Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries,” a new documentary by the award-winning Gardner Documentary Group, will have its television premiere on Philadelphia’s WHYY-TV at 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6.

The film – produced and directed by Janet Gardner of Princeton, N.J., founder of The Gardner Group, Inc – illuminates the history, deep faith, contradictions and enduring impact of the Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers.

It is narrated by Richard Nurse, who also served as senior producer. Nurse is the former executive director of the Crossroads Theatre Company and served as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Education for Rutgers University.

The broadcast date coincides with the sixth annual World Quaker Day, celebrated in prayer, hymns and activities by Quakers around the globe. This year’s theme is sustainability of the Earth.

The one-hour film tells the story of a spiritual movement that has played a remarkable role in the religious, social and political life of the nation, and has a significant place in the history and founding of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Demonstrating an influence disproportionate to their numbers, Quakers have led anti-slavery, civil rights and women’s rights movements and been strong advocates for world peace.

The iconic, yet often unheralded, faith is brought into focus through interviews, archival footage and dramatizations. The film follows its history from the United Kingdom, where it was illegal to be a Quaker, to America, where Quakers found religious freedom, economic opportunity and an evolving nation ripe for their activism.

The Quakers’ impact is illustrated through their most significant causes and the people who helped lead them, from William Penn to present-day father-daughter activists George and Ingrid Lakey.

The film doesn’t gloss over the contradictions, such as their reluctance to integrate their own schools and meetings, and their early introduction of the practice of solitary confinement.

It takes on the two Quaker presidents – Herbert Hoover, who denied government aid to impoverished Americans during the Depression and Richard Nixon, who prolonged the Vietnam War.

Among the awards won by the film are the Flickers’ International Humanitarian Award Grand Prize and, locally, the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at the New Hope Film Festival. For information go to