HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

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Kevin Rafferty, filmmaker and Harvard grad, uses archival footage and interviews with team members to ‘replay’ the legendary football game in which the undefeated teams of Harvard and Yale battled it out for the 1968 season’s final victory. The film’s title, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, may give away the results, but the football plays, commentaries and remembrances presented in this sports documentary are gripping–even if you’re not a football fan.

It was 1968, a tumultuous year in American history. There were race riots, protests against the Vietnam War and incidents of police violence against civilian demonstrators. Social and political turmoil turned college students on campuses across the nation into activists–even within the privileged confines of Harvard and Yale.

Against this background of social strife, however, students at these still male-only Ivy League institutions seemed to unite in support of their respective football teams, the Harvard Crimson and Yale Bulldogs. At the end of the season, each of the teams, as it happened, were undefeated. Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is about their historic playoff.

Director Kevin Rafferty uses footage from the game, showing crowd-pleasing play complete with instant replays, to show how the Harvard Crimson, the underdogs, recovered from what looked to be sure defeat at halftime, to tie the Yale Bulldogs 29-29. Yes, that’s a tie. But the circumstances were so extraordinary that both Harvard and Yale considered the game to be Harvard’s victory.

The football plays are interspersed with commentaries by Crimson and Bulldog teammates–including actor Tommy Lee Jones, who was playing for Harvard–expressing their utter amazement at how the game played out. They felt as though they were in a dream, they say. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).