'As Goes Janesville' documentary nominated for Emmy Award

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Jim Leute
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

JANESVILLE--Brad Lichtenstein was at first surprised then thrilled and humbled to learn that his documentary “As Goes Janesville” has been nominated for an Emmy Award.

His emotional responses, however, are a byproduct and not the reason for making the film that first aired on the PBS series Independent Lens last October, he said.

“We've been so busy that I actually forgot Independent Lens was going submit it for nomination,” Lichtenstein said. “It's a huge honor, but it wasn't top of mind. It wasn't the reason we made the film.

“What we try to do is make a relevant film that engages a community.”

“As Goes Janesville” is a documentary about the community as it tries to reinvent itself amid the loss of its General Motors plant and statewide political upheaval over unions.

Lichtenstein and his crew spent more than three years filming for the 85-minute documentary that follows five central characters.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences last week announced the nominations for the 34th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards. They cover 42 categories for programming distributed in 2012.

The awards will be presented Oct. 1 in New York City. More than 1,000 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists are expected.

“As Goes Janesville” is one of five nominees in the category of “Outstanding Investigative Journalism—Long-Form.”

It is competing with two episodes of Frontline and two episodes of POV. Both are also PBS series.

“When you consider the number of documentaries made and offered to the public each year—something like 47,000—it's really quite an honor that our film was nominated,” Lichtenstein said.

The Milwaukee-based filmmaker and president of 371 Productions said the nomination raises the profile of the film and will help open doors for future projects.

“It really is a big deal,” he said.

Since completing the film, Lichtenstein said he's been busy promoting BizLab, the community engagement initiative that stemmed from the film's tale about what happens when partisan polarization derails economic development.

BizLabs bring together business, labor, civic and community leaders to address tough economic issues such as falling wages, globalism and the shrinking middle class, he said, adding that he recently screened the movie in Nashville and participated in a roundtable discussion there.

“The nomination certainly helps raise awareness, particularly as we do these BizLabs,” he said.

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