Veteran director Judith Montell (Forever Activists, SFJFF 1991; A Home on the Range, SFJFF 2002) returns with Professional Revolutionary, a testament to the accomplishments that a life spent seeking justice can reap. Saul Wellman, who was born to Yiddish-speaking socialist émigrés in Brooklyn, went to hear Eugene V. Debs at the age of 14 and spent the next 76 years fighting for passionate causes, from communism to full employment to labor rights. His fervent desire to fight in the Spanish Civil War wasn’t dampened by his question, "How do you get to Spain? Most of us hadn’t been to the Bronx yet!" The film recounts the dramatic events surrounding Wellman’s arrest and trial during the McCarthy era, one of the many repercussions he faced for tirelessly organizing for the Communist Party in Michigan’s auto industry. Never an ideologue (he took heat for wearing his World War II military uniform to party meetings), Wellman recounts his hurt and disillusionment at the news of Stalin’s repression, a revelation that caused him to leave the party. Wellman’s moral compass unfailingly pointed him towards the most pressing causes of his long life; he mentored several generations of anti-war, civil rights and labor organizers. Montell has given us an unsentimental portrait of a Brooklyn boy who became a mensch.
Director Judy Montell was the producer, director, and co-writer of the Academy Award nominated documentary "Forever Activists: Stories from the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade." Other projects include: "Pasporto al la Tuta Mondo," a series of twelve half-hour videos teaching the language of Esperanto; also in production (with Bonnie Burt) are"The Radical Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma," which traces the history of the founders and their descendants of this special California community; "The Political is Personal: the Story of Saul Wellman," a study of the interaction between the "old left" and the "new left;" and "The Key from Spain: Bosnian Sephardim," which looks at the Sephardic culture and 20th century history of Bosnian Jews through the story and music of Flory Jagoda, a singer and composer of Ladino songs.