While media coverage of the death of "Soprano" star James Gandolfini has focused mainly on his acting career, little has been mentioned about the more political side of his work.
In New York City, Gandolfini was a beloved figure not only because of his acting on the stage and screen, but also because of his major support for community media and producing documentaries critical of war. In 2010, he produced the HBO film "Wartorn: 1861-2010" about post-traumatic stress disorder from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also conducted a series of in-depth interviews with U.S. soldiers wounded in the Iraq War for a 2007 HBO film, "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq."
Democracy Now! speaks with the films' co-directors, Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill, who also worked with Gandolfini at New York City's Downtown Community Television.
Of Gandolfini's documentary work, Alpert says: "The interesting thing about the documentaries is that, in their essence, they show war in all its terror, they're antiwar films. And the army has embraced these films and shows them to every single soldier that comes into the army. It was a really constructive series of documentaries."
O'Neill adds: "He lent his energy and his warmth and his compassion to these stories that were not being heard. It was a real gift to everyone."
Of Gandolfini's involvement in community media, Alpert says: "He came to DCTV and especially liked our high school kids. He bought them all cameras this Christmas so they could tell their stories. We didn't have money for cameras, Jim bought them cameras."
Click here to read the complete transcript of the interview.
In 2010, Democracy Now! hosted a segment about "Wartorn" with Alpert, O'Neill and the parents of two soldiers who committed suicide after coming home from Iraq.