William Sloane Coffin: A Life
William Sloane Coffin: A Life will examine in-depth the life and legacy of the brilliant, ebullient and now legendary former chaplain of Yale University and senior minister of Riverside Church in New York.
Heir to a furniture fortune, William Sloane Coffin's initial aspiration was to become a concert pianist. He enlisted in the army in World War 11, joined the CIA during the Korean War, and faced his first great moral crisis when he realized that many of the Soviet refugees he was repatriating to the Soviet Union faced certain death.
Eventually, Coffin attended Yale Divinity School. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister, and married Eva Rubinstein, daughter of the pianist Arthur Rubinstein. After he left Yale, he became senior minister at Riverside Church in NY, where he involved himself in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement and nuclear disarmament. During this period he divorced, and after a time married Harriet Gibney, mother of Alex Gibney, the film's director.
Using archival footage and in-depth interviews, still photography and artistic dramatizations, Gibney will paint a portrait of the man and the minister, and, as he writes in his proposal, "track his progress from 'great man' - leader, orator, advocate for change and justice - to 'wonderful man' -who later in life became full of wonder about the world around him."
The nature and substance of Gibney's relationship with William Sloane Coffin as a son-in-law will "inform, but not dominate the tone and texture of the film." This fortuitous relationship offers the opportunity for a unique perspective on both the private and public man, as well as unparalleled access to all aspects of Coffin's life.
Gibney received an Academy Award nomination for his film Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room. His most recent film, Taxi to the Dark Side, won the Best Documentary Award at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. He has just completed Gonzo, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Gibney has won awards for other films, including the Special Jury Prize last year at Sundance and has premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
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