"THE FIRST murder I ever covered is still unsolved. I'm the only one who remembers," says Edna Buchanan, one of the many journalists quoted in "The First Freedom," Charles Guggenheim's fast-moving but deeply informative documentary about the American press, which greets visitors to the Newseum, an interactive museum in Rosslyn.
"There are killers out there that I know. I've talked to them. I knowthem personally.And they've never been brought to justice. Those arethe people that really need their stories told. You need to know what happened and why. What went wrong. And try to prevent it from happening again. It validates their tragedy. What if I wasn't there? A lot of stories wouldn't have been told. Some murders wouldn't be solved. There's something really noble about going out every day to seek the truth."
Buchanan (who won a Pulitzer for her work for the Miami Herald) and many other reporters and photojournalists (from Edward Murrow to Ward Just), are quoted or featured in the 30-minute film. An extraordinary work, which shows the inevitable tension between government and a free press -- as well as the ethical excesses of the media -- it covers the press from the earliest days of the republic to the present, by way of Civil Rights, Watergate, the Vietnam War and Monica Lewinsky. Superbly edited and visually spirited, it's also rich with testimony like Buchanan's. The movie, which runs daily at 3:30, is also a fine introduction to the museum, which shows visitors the processes, methods and the wonder of the media. The Newseum is free to the public and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 5. It's located at 1101 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington. For more information, call 703/284-3544 or visit www.newseum.org.
JEAN RENOIR'S 1937 "Grand Illusion," one of the great antiwar films of the 20th century starring Jean Gabin, begins a short run at the American Film Institute. Admission is $7.50; the movie runs Friday through Thursday. Call 202/785-4600 for AFI`s recorded schedule of this and other movies.