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Submitted August 17, 2010
Avila film professor has interesting meeting during trip to Mexico


Ben Meade, Ph.D.,
Professor of Film & Digital Media

Ben Meade traveled to central Mexico at the end of July for a little vacation and to indulge his passion by taking in a big, international film festival. Little did he know he'd have the opportunity to meet and converse with one of the most intriguing figures in recent U.S. political history.

Through a common association with the festival's organizer, Meade got to meet and have dinner with Daniel Ellsberg, the former U.S. military analyst who, back in 1971, released what came to be known as the "Pentagon Papers," a top-secret Pentagon study of the country's decision-making and conduct of the Vietnam War that eventually led to Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Meade, a professor in Avila University's School of Visual and Communication Arts, met Ellsberg while attending the Expresión en Corto International Film Festival in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, Mexico. An estimated 85,000 audience members viewed some of the more than 2,400 films from 90 participating countries. Included in the films was one entitled, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, a documentary released late last year by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith.

"Here I was sitting with this guy who was very open, nice, and wanted to know about the film industry and about our university. I was honored."

In his brief time spent with Ellsberg, Meade said the 79-year-old former government analyst was as feisty and leery of the U.S. government as ever.

"It was almost a little surreal," said Meade, who also was at the festival promoting his new film, Woke Up This Mornin' in the Arkansas Delta. "Here's a guy who … what he did was highly illegal. But, the other side of it is, he felt it was necessary to expose this stuff.

"Here I was sitting with this guy who was very open, nice, and wanted to know about the film industry and about our university. I was honored. We talked a great deal about Hearts and Minds, the definitive Vietnam film.

"He was very forthright about, life is taking risks."

Meade said he and Ellsberg discussed possibilities of him coming one day to speak in the Kansas City area.

"He said, 'Let's just stay in contact,'" Meade said. "That's exactly what I intend to do." AU