By: T. Felder
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/10/23 – Joining in on celebrating Women History Month PBS & Independent Lens Honors activist Ruby Duncan with the premiere of Storming
Caesars Palace – a documentary chronicling Duncans life as a protestor member of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity.
Duncan was a hotel worker in Las Vegas, Nevada, but due to a workplace accident, she lost her job and had to go on welfare. Unfortunately she would soon discover firsthand what others had
to face when dealing with the stigma and harassment of the welfare system. Refusing to be ostracized, Duncan joined forces with Mary Wesley, Alversa Beals, and other mothers forming
the National Welfare Rights Organization, which advocated for adequate income, dignity, and justice. This led the women to launch Operation Nevada – a march of 1,500, including Ralph
Abernathy and Jane Fonda. The women took on the mob marching down the Las Vegas Strip and even shutting down the famous Ceasars Palace Hotel.
The success of Operation Nevada led Duncan to follow up, forming the nation’s first women-led community corporation, Operation Life, bringing medical supplies and jobs to her neighborhood.
This catapulted Duncans activism, making her a pilar in Washington and putting her on President Jimmy Carters radar. This led to him appointing her to the council of Economic Opportunity in 1979.
The documentary-style film is based on author/professor Annelise Orleck & her book Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their War on Poverty, aiding filmmaker Hazel Gurland-Pooler in organizing the film, which will include interviews from Duncan and other vital figures that played a role in the movement.
Through the lens of this film, viewers will get an opportunity to see the impact that Duncan and other women such as herself had on shaping Americas principles of justice, inclusion, and opportunity for all. These same principles are still used by activists today in their fight for economic justice.
Storming Ceasars Palace will premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens, Monday, March 20, and available to stream for free on the PBS App. Watch the trailer at the link below:
About the Film
STORMING CAESARS PALACE is a co-production of Gurland Documentaries, LLC, Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Black Public Media (BPM), with funding provided by the CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING (CPB). Directed and Produced by Hazel Gurland-Pooler. Produced by Nazenet Habtezghi and Edited by Sunita Prasad, Co-Written by Hazel Gurland-Pooler and Sunita Prasad. Jamila Wignot and Yoruba Richen are consulting producers. The Executive Producers are Lois Vossen and Sally Jo Fifer for Independent Lens, and Leslie Fields-Cruz for Black Public Media. Supervising Producer for ITVS, Michael Ehrenzweig.
About Independent Lens
INDEPENDENT LENS is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series, airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, Action Family Giving, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote
Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more visit pbs.org/independent lens.
Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @independentlens.
Director: Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Producers: Hazel Gurland-Pooler, Nazenet Habtezghi
Executive Producers: Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer, Leslie Fields-Cruz
Editor: Sunita Prasad
Writers: Hazel Gurland-Pooler,Sunita Prasad
Consulting Producers: Jamila Wignot, Yoruba Richen