Screening of "300 Miles to Freedom" at Wells College

02-07-2012 - Documentary traces the life of John W. Jones, who escaped slavery in 1844 and settled in Elmira, N.Y.

Wells College presents a special screening of the documentary film “300 Miles to Freedom.” The film describes the life of John W. Jones as he escaped slavery in the American South, traveled north via the Underground Railroad, and settled in Elmira N.Y. The screening will take place at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, in Phipps Auditorium of Macmillan Hall on the Wells College campus. It will be followed by a Q-and-A session with the filmmakers. This event is a part of the College’s Celebrating Scholarship and Engagement series; the day will feature several events on the subject of Civil Rights and Liberties.

“300 Miles to Freedom” was directed and edited by Richard Breyer and Anand Kamalakar. In the 40-minute film, Breyer and Kamalakar tell the story of Jones’ journey through interviews with historians, ministers, farmers and others as they personally travel his route north from Leesburg, Va. to Elmira, N.Y. After Jones arrived in Elmira at the age of 27 with only $1.46 in his pocket, he crafted a new life for himself as a wealthy and respected member of the community. This film celebrates the courage of those who escaped slavery as well as those who assisted them through the Underground Railroad and fought against slavery through the Abolition movement.

The documentary was chosen for screening at the San Diego Black Film Festival and won a 2011 Accolade Competition Award of Merit. It has been called “a natural choice for classroom use at all levels of education and for other groups interested in an original discussion of ‘America in crisis’” by Syracuse University Associate Professor of History John Scott Strickland and a “great opportunity to see current events and challenges within their historical context” by Chemung County Historical Society Director Bruce Whitmarsh.

Richard Breyer has created a number of documentaries on subjects such as the Civil Rights Movement, post-civil war El Salvador, Native American singer Joanne Shenandoah and the Ethiopian Famine. He has twice been a Fulbright Scholar to India and is currently co-director of Syracuse University’s Documentary Film and History Department and professor in their Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Anand Kamalakar has directed, produced and edited films that have won Best Film at the Brooklyn Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival and Cinequest Film Festival. He has edited for ABC’s Primetime, NBC’s Dateline, ABC’s 20/20 and the Emmy-nominated ABC special “Brothers in Arms.” He co-founded Trilok Fusion Arts, Inc in 1996, and he has taught courses at Syracuse University, the School of Visual Arts (New York), New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and New School University’s Parsons School of Design.

For more information about the film and its creators, visit