In Remembrance of Bill Siegel

Posted on December 11, 2018

It is with sadness that we say goodbye to filmmaker and educator Bill Siegel. Bill first became a part of the ITVS family with his award-winning film The Weather Underground, which he co-directed with Sam Green. It tells the story of former University of Chicago students who showed their outrage at the Vietnam War and racism in America by waging a low-level war against the United States government through much of the 1970s. Siegel then directed the Emmy-winning The Trials of Muhammad Ali which told the story of Ali’s battle to overturn the five-year prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. Both films premiered on Independent Lens on PBS. 

“Working with Bill was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my career,” said Lois Vossen, Executive Producer of Independent Lens.  “I was extremely fortunate to work with him during the production of two Independent Lens films, The Weather Underground (with Sam Green and Carrie Lozano) and The Trials of Muhammad Ali. Bill was humble so it’s worth noting that one was nominated for an Oscar and the other won an Emmy Award. We've been in production on his new film for the past few years, a project Bill felt would be his best film yet. I have no doubt that would have been true." 

"We shared Minnesota roots, Midwest values, and a love of archival footage. He was an extraordinary person: thoughtful, kind, funny, smart, generous, hard-working and deeply committed to social justice. Last year he sent me his mother’s obituary and we talked for a long time about her legacy. Bill’s beautiful films will be a part of his shining legacy for decades to come. I wish we had had more time for more of them,” Lois Vossen. 

As an educator, for over two decades, Siegel worked with The Great Books Foundation which was dedicated to literacy and lifelong education. Siegel rose from National Training Instructor to Vice President of School Programs and led more than 1,000 professional development workshops, working in all types of schools--public, private, rural, charter, turnaround, and faith-based. Siegel taught thousands of teachers how to utilize mindful questioning strategies as a means of building students’ critical thinking skills. 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”--Martin Luther King, Jr. 

To learn more about Bill and his extraordinary life, please visit our partners at Kartemquin.  

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