Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WY PBS will screen two films about Prohibition era at UW Sept. 23

Two films about the Prohibition era will be screened Friday, Sept. 23, at the University of Wyoming.

Wyoming PBS and UW will host the screening and discussion of noted filmmaker Ken Burns' latest documentary "Prohibition," followed by a locally-produced film "Prohibition in Wyoming" produced by Debbie Hammons. Both will be shown from noon-1 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. Food also will be served.

Following a short clip of both films, panelists will discuss with audience members issues raised in the video. Panelists are Phil Roberts and Isa Helfgott, associate professors in the UW Department of History, and Hammons, a former state legislator and UW trustee. ASUW President Megan Degenfelder is the panel's moderator.

Set in the era of bathtub gin, bootleggers and speakeasies, "Prohibition," a new three-part, six-hour documentary series by Burns and Lynn Novick, tells the true story of the rise, rule and fall of the U.S. Constitution's 18th Amendment. It was called the "Noble Experiment," but was in fact one of America's most notorious civic failures, a lesson in the challenge of legislating human behavior, according to the filmmakers.

Wyoming, the last state in the Rocky Mountain region to adopt Prohibition, struggled to stop the sale of illegal liquor. It created a new statewide law enforcement agency, but two of its directors were fired for graft and bootlegging.

Adding to the state's problems, many Wyoming county officials did not enforce Prohibition laws. Federal agents arrived to intervene, but were met with deep suspicion. "Prohibition in Wyoming" features local interviews and insightful historians, who share stories about this unique time in Wyoming history.

Both documentaries will be broadcast next month on Wyoming PBS.

Photo: Two documentaries about the Prohibition era will be screened from noon-1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. One of the films is set in Wyoming (Wyoming PBS)

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