On May 17, 1968 nine Vietnam War protesters, including a nurse, an artist and three priests, walked into a Catonsville, Maryland draft board office, grabbed hundreds of selective service records and incinerated them with homemade napalm.
The 45-minute documentary film, Investigation of a Flame, offers an intimate look at this unlikely, disparate band of resisters — the Catonsville Nine as they came to be known — who broke the law in a poetic act of civil disobedience. The publicity and news coverage from the ensuing trial helped galvanize an increasingly disillusioned U.S. public.
Investigation of a Flame explores this protest — an action more common in the 1960’s — within in the context of these extremely different times, times in which foes of Middle East peace agreements, abortion and technology resort to violence to access the public imagination.
Filmmaker Lynne Sachs has combined long unseen archival footage with a series of informal interviews of Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, John Hogan, Tom Lewis, Marjorie and Tom Melville, and Howard Zinn (at 42:20) to encourage viewers to ponder the relevance of such events today.
Investigation of a Flame is distributed by Icarus Films.