America’s Forgotten Heroine: Ida Lewis, Keeper of the Light

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1 Sep , 2015   Posted by: mgagnon


America’s Forgotten Heroine: Ida Lewis, Keeper of the Light is an historical documentary that focuses on the intriguing life story of this country’s most famous maritime heroine.

Written, directed and produced by Marian Gagnon of Goodnight Irene Productions and shot and edited by Jim Karpeichik of Ocean State Video, this 47-minute documentary film provides an intimate portrayal of Ida’s life from age 15 to 69 (from 1857 to 1911) and the passion and moral fiber she intrinsically brought to her work as a lighthouse keeper and unlikely heroine. It also explores the myriad decisions which led to a life of both fame and isolation, Ida’s unexpected celebrity in Newport as well as across the U.S., and the impact she inadvertently had on the early women’s rights movement.

As John Williams Haley, author of The Rhode Island Historian wrote in 1939: “…of all the Rhode Island women who have achieved fame in one way or another…and there have been many…none attained the world renown of a modest little woman who was born and lived most of her life in Newport. In fact, it would hardly be exaggeration to say that she was more famous, particularly during the latter half of her life, than any American woman of the past or present.”

While this statement may very well stand today, Ida’s story has largely been forgotten. Gagnon’s goal with this film is to renew the “national memory” of Ida Lewis as an American heroine not only in her hometown of Newport and throughout RI, but across the United States.

Film Details

Director: Marian Gagnon

Writer: Marian Gagnon

Year of Release: 2014

Running Time: 47 minutes

New England Connection: Born and raised in New Hampshire and lives in southern Rhode Island. Focus mainly on lost or forgotten women's stories, largely from New England.

Director(s) Bio:: Marian Gagnon has been making documentaries since 2004 and founded Goodnight Irene Productions: An Indie-Documentary Film Company in honor of her mother, Irene. While she is passionate about the documentary genre, Marian’s true love is producing documentary films about lost, forgotten, or untold women's stories. Her background and 15 years experience as an award-winning journalist have paved the way for her avocation as writer, director and producer of documentaries.

Marian also is a full-time Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., teaching journalism, film studies, visual literacy, speech communications and literature.

All four of her films consistently air on R.I. PBS and two of them, including her most recent documentary, America’s Forgotten Heroine: Ida Lewis, Keeper of the Light have earned New England Emmy nominations.

Marian was born and raised in Manchester, N.H. but has lived the majority of her adult life in southern Rhode Island. She has a B.A. in Journalism, a M.A. in Teaching, and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Media Studies and the Documentary Genre.

Number of shooting days: 24

Camera Used: Sony FS7 4K

Editing software: Final Cut Pro

Budget: $24,000

Financed by: Grants/Scholarships

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Film Trailer: