Milton Rogovin: The Rich Have Their Own Photographers

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Milton Rogovin: The Rich Have Their Own Photographers

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In 1957, Milton Rogovin was targeted as a Communist by the House of Un-American Activities Committee for his work registering Black voters and promoting workers’ rights. Declared the ‘Top Red in Buffalo’ by The Buffalo News, his life was turned upside-down. Society shunned him and his friends disappeared. The toll it took on his family was immense, but he refused to be silenced. With a renewed dedication he found a new political voice through the camera.

Rogovin began documenting African American storefront churches in Buffalo. He photographed the residents of Buffalo’s Lower West Side, a community populated by African Americans, Puerto Ricans and Native Americans, whose streets were characterized by drugs, prostitution and poverty. Rogovin did not exploit the circumstances of these peoples – the portraits he took do not emphasize the harsh conditions of their lives, but rather the dignity with which they live.

Rogovin also photographed steelworkers throughout Western New York and miners in each corner of the world, first at their respective places of work and then in their homes. Fighting for justice through the lens of his camera, Rogovin, now 99, gave a face to the faceless, bringing the marginalized aspects of society into the mainstream and focus of social concern.

Today, Rogovin’s photographs hang in the Getty and many other distinguished museums around the world.

2007 / 60 min. / DVD / Color

© 2007 Telling Image Films

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Studio: Telling Image Films / MUSE Film and Television
Executive Producers: Karl Katz / Catherine Price
Producer: Ezra Bookstein
Director: Ezra Bookstein
Music: Ezra Bookstein / Pete Seeger
Distributor: Seventh Art Releasing / MUSE Film and Television