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January 31, 2014

SUCO grad to return, premiere 'Black List' film

“Brothers of the Black List,” a film documenting Oneonta’s controversial Black List incident in 1992, will premiere next week at the director’s alma mater, SUNY Oneonta.

Sean Gallagher said his 72-minute documentary, which began as a 20-minute class project his senior year, will have its first public screening Monday at 7 p.m. in SUNY Oneonta’s lecture hall, IRC 1.

Gallagher, a mass communications major who graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2008, said the documentary features 15 interviews of six or seven former students, faculty and community members affected by the list of 78 black male students given to state police by a SUNY Oneonta administrator to investigate an alleged burglary. This action and the resulting investigation triggered years of controversy and resulted in litigation.

The documentary, which features a great deal of archival footage and photos, took approximately three years to make, Gallagher said. It all started with the class project in 2007, he said, which led to a “packed” viewing of the short film at the Red Dragon Theater on campus.

Looking back, Gallagher said, he realized his short film contained many inaccuracies and left out important details of the case. He said the idea for a full-length documentary was born when Kathleen O’Mara, professor of African and Latino studies at SUNY Oneonta, called him the day before he graduated and said she had a giant box of archives from 1992 he could use if he ever wanted to expand on the class project.

Gallagher delved into the documentary which, he said, was a one-man production. He said he simultaneously conducted interviews and videotaped, which eliminated the possibility of a question-and-answer format for his film. Because of this, Gallagher said, the interviews were more of a “therapy session” for the individuals who experienced the Black List first-hand. He said he spent years poring over archives and even posted a timeline of the events on his wall.

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