(Host) Filmmaker Charles Guggenheim died Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Guggenhiem was one of the country’s pre-eminent documentary filmmakers. He’s perhaps best known for his 1969 Oscar winning film, RFK Remembered, made shortly after the assassination of Robert Kennedy.
Guggenheim also had a Vermont connection. His 1999 film, A Place in the Land tells the story of three families and their 200 year effort to preserve the Woodstock property occupied by the Billings Farm and Museum and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park.
Guggenheim spent a year and a half filming and gathering information for A Place in the Land. David Donath is president of the Woodstock Foundation and the director of the Billings Farm Museum. Donath says Guggenheim was an intensely inquisitive man.
(Donath) “I remember the first day I met him and we walked around Billings Farm for an afternoon. When I was finished I felt like I knew the man and he knew me. And I enjoyed him but I also felt like I’d intellectually had the greatest workout of my life.”
(Host) The Truman, Kennedy and Johnson libraries all feature Guggenheim’s biographies of the Presidents. Guggenheim said he only made films about people and places he felt a connection to. Donath says the filmmaker’s affinity for the farm museum in Woodstock stemmed from a childhood ambition to be a farmer.
(Donath) “And I think that was part of what really engaged him personally when he came here to Woodstock to make the film. I remember him on one frosty morning trying to herd our heifers into line to get them more photogenic.”
(Host) A Place in the Land was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999. Charles Guggenheim was seventy-eight.