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                 Guest For  MONDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2009

                                       (Originally aired 09-07-88)

                                        BARBARA TRENT


                An Oscar Winning Filmmaker,

                  Seasoned Activist, and

                  Trail Blazer for Change

              Director / Producer / Editor

                      "Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair"


                                        TRUDY MASON


                                 Media   Consultant

Publicist for "Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair"



  The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WB8WEp7SwY - BARBARA TRENT & TRUDY MASON




Barbara Trent

Empowerment Project
8218 Farington Mill Rd.
Chapel Hill NC 27517
Phone: 919.928-0382


"Soldiers Speak Out" Director/Producer, 2006

"Waging Peace" Director/Producer, 2004. Won the 2003 Burke Award for Best Documentary.

"Stand Up Rise Up" Director/Producer, 2004

"Days of Resistance" Director/Producer, 2002

"Is War the Answer?" Director/Producer, 2001

"The Panama Deception" Director/Producer, 1992
AWARDS: Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Gold Apple/Best Documentary, National Educational Film and Video; Blue Ribbon /Best Documentary, American Film and Video; 2nd Prize, Riminicinema, Italy; 1st Prize for Film, AMASCULTURA: Encontras Intemacionais de Cinema Documental, Lisbon, Portugal.

"COVERUP: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair" Director/Producer, 1988
AWARDS: Gold Hugo, Chicago; Prix Du Public, Film des Femmes, France; Blue Ribbon/Best Documentary, American Film and Video; Gold Apple/Best Documentary, National Educational Film and Video; Leigh Whipper Gold Award, Philadelphia International.

"Destination Nicaragua" Co-Director/Co-Producer, 1986
AWARDS: Best Documentary, Philadelphia International; Silver Award, Houston International; Merit Awards, Columbus and Suffolk Counties.

"Bus to Topanga" Associate Producer, 1983


You Cross That Line: American Activists Talk About the Process of Change - St. Martin's Press, published Fall 2000. One chapter composed of an interview by author Marie Cieri.

Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them - New World Library, published Fall, 1999. One chapter in a compilation of personal stories written by a variety of women illuminating the thoughts and events leading to a decision that has greatly affected their lives.

Media in a Capitalist Culture - Published in The Cultures of Globalization, by Duke University Press, 1998. An analysis of the need to extend activism to the level of global access through the use of film and video technology, the essay explains the obstacles that independent, activist filmmakers might face when they attempt to do work that questions government policy from within capitalist culture. The essay concludes with practical solutions to some of these challenges.

At Risk: The Anatomy of a Decision - Published in The Search for "Reality," by Michael Wise Productions, 1997. The essay explores the politics, possibilities, and challenges of advocacy while elaborating upon the complexity of ethical decision making in documentary film.

Taking it to the Theaters - written with Joanne Doroshow and W. B. Peale. Published by the Empowerment Project in association with National Video Resources, 1993. This booklet is a user-friendly guide to theatrical and video self-distribution of issue-oriented films and videos.


Trent actively tours, screening her films and lecturing on civic responsibility, censorship, public and foreign policy, filmmaking and activism. She leads workshops and speaks at festivals that encourage independent filmmaking and aggressive film distribution. She has been sponsored to speak at events by the American Film Institute, the International Documentary Association, International Women in Film, the United Nations Association, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Recent Awards and Honors and Special Appearances

 2004 - Inaugural John Huston Lecture on Documentary Film; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills.

 1999 - Humanist Arts Award; Boulder Intl. Humanist Institute 2nd Annual Symposium.

 1999 - Schmidt Public Intellectuals Program; featured speaker, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.

 1998 - Lou Douglas Lecture Series; featured speaker, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

 1998 - United Nations Association Film Festival; special retrospective in honor of Barbara's documentary work.

 1997 - Wesley Wallace Visiting Lecturer; UNC at Chapel Hill.

 1997 - Raw Footage - a one hour interview of Barbara Trent by actor Alec Baldwin broadcast several times per month during the spring on Bravo and the Independent Film Channel.

 1997 - Schmidt Eminent Scholar in Fine and Performing Arts; Super Chair, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton: Nominee.

 1993 - The Gaspar Octavio Hernandez Decoration; Sindicato de Periodistas de Panama (Journalists Union, Panama). The 1st time an award has ever been given to a non-Panamanian.

 1993 - Academy Award; Best Feature Documentary, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

 1992 - Humanist Arts Award; "For Courageous Advocacy of Progressive Ideals Through Video Documentary," American Humanist Association.

 1991 - Videomaker of the Year; Videomaker Magazine.

 1989 - American Film Institute Fellowship.


1983 - Present: Empowerment Project
Co-Founder/Co-Director; Chapel Hill, NC
Co-director of media resource center serving filmmakers and videographers from the region, the nation and internationally. Producer of outstanding documentary films and videos which are used as tools for organizing for social change and media reform. Primary spokesperson, lecturer, and workshop instructor for the organization at festivals, colleges, and universities around the country and the world.

1996 - 1997: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dept. of Communications, Wesley Wallace Visiting Lecturer; Chapel Hill, NC
Designed and taught a class on the development, production and distribution of documentaries regarding political and social issues.

1981 - 83: Freelance Consultant, Organizer, Trainer
Santa Monica, CA
Held various organizing positions, including interim Executive Director, Ocean Park Community Center; interim Executive Director, Mid-City Neighbors; and Co-organizer, Pilgrimage for Peace, a caravan of 48 peace activists who traveled to major research and nuclear weapons facilities enroute to the UN Special Session on Disarmament, 1982 (documented in Bus II, feature-length film by Haskell Wexler).

1978 - 81: Action Agency, Region 5
Expert Senior Training Specialist; Chicago, IL
Designed and delivered training for VISTA volunteers and supervisors in 6 states. Appointed during the Carter administration.

1979 - 81: Rural Creative Workshop
Founder/Executive Director; Jackson County, IL
Established community-based planning, problem solving and cultural expansion programs with a human service delivery approach for area rural and Black populations. Developed an extensive arts and recreation program throughout the county. Trained advocates in small rural and pocket urban Black communities to identify individuals and families in need of area services in order to plug them into services available and to assist them in creating new community programs as needed.

1978 - 79: Jackson County Community Mental Health Center
Community Developer/Counselor; Jackson County, IL
Community developer/counselor for the Youth Service Bureau, responsible for implementing court diversion, prevention and treatment for area youth. Initiated programming in rural and Black communities.

1974 - 75: Aeon Alternatives, Inc.
Staff; Carbondale, IL
Collaborated in writing a court diversion grant request for the lower 5 county region in Illinois. Assisted Aeon in developing responsive programs for youth.

1970-71: Synergy, Inc.
Co-Founder/Core Staff; Carbondale, IL
Provided direct service to and trained others in drug and life crisis intervention and counseling.



Governors State University, Illinois, M.A., 1979, B.A., 1975.

Community Service

2007: The Literacy Project, Member of the Advisory Team

1999 - 00: Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, Board of Directors Member, Washington, DC

 1998 - 00: United Nations Associations Film Festival, Honorary Committee, Stanford, CA

 1995 - 00: Roy W. Dean Film Grant, Judge, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

 1994 - 00: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Member at Large

 1993 - 00: Empowerment Project Board of Directors, President

 1993 - 95: Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, Member

 1990 - 92: International Documentary Association, Board of Directors and Affirmative Action Committee Chairperson

 1986 - 89: ARDIS (Association for Responsible Dissent), Advisory Board, Washington, DC; Association of former CIA and FBI officers and agents speaking out about abuses in the name of national security.

 1982 - 84: Topanga Organization for Parents and Students, Co-Chair, Topanga, CA

 1980: Illinois White House Council On Families, Chicago

 1979: Southern Illinois Peoples Development Corporation

 1977 - 79: Makanda Community Development Council, Organizer

 1974 - 76: Dept. of Corrections, Group Home Advisory Board, Illinois

 1970: Jackson County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, Illinois

 1965: International Conference on Human Rights, New Jersey

 1964: White House Conference On Youth, Washington D.C.

To book Barbara to speak at your institution contact: 
Empowerment Project
PO Box 2155
Chapel Hill NC 27515-2155
(919) 928-0382



Activist Films / Videos
Media Facility
Barbara Trent

Contact Us

speaking appearances

Barbara's Schedule | Lecture Topics | Barbara's Resume

Barbara TrentBarbara Trent is an Oscar winning filmmaker, seasoned activist, and trail blazer for change. She has publicly exposed criminal activities in the White House, Pentagon, and CIA; and has been the target of at least three FBI counter intelligence operations. Her personal story of courage risk and achievement, starting in the 1960s is inspiring to many. 

Trent fights to expose the forces controlling our media as well as our government's covert policies. Her films have been acclaimed, exhibited, and broadcast around the world. Broadcast resistance in the United States, however, makes her presentation particularly relevant. Drawing on a quarter century of filming and community organizing, Ms. Trent engages audiences in an exciting journey from skepticism to illumination to action. Her urgent message inspires audiences to find methods that will impact the federal government, the mass media, and the public at large. Ms. Trent examines the present day obstacles to having an independent and courageous media in the United States. She educates audiences to "see through" the daily news and assists them in identifying ways to access alternative perspectives.

Appointed as an Expert Senior Training Specialist for the VISTA program under Jimmy Carter, Trent has been decorated with the Gasper Octavio Hernandez Award by the Journalist's Union in Panama, and is a recipient of the American Humanist Association's Arts Award for her "courageous advocacy of progressive ideas." She received the Academy Award in 1993. Trent co-founded and co-directs the Empowerment Project, a media resource center serving hundreds of progressive videographers and filmmakers each year. 

Her lifelong commitment to empowerment invariably inspires her audiences to assume more active responsibility for themselves, their society, and the world in which they live. Trent's thoughts on ethics the media, government, the drug crisis, women's issues, affirmative action, unfettered capitalism, international and national affairs are presented as a frank source of information, personal experience, and inspiration. 

Ms. Trent has been featured in Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them, published by Turner Publishing, The Cultures of Globalization, published by Duke University Press, Humanity in an Age of Terror published by Duke University Press, The Search for "Reality": The Art of Documentary Filming, published by Michael Wiese Productions, Taking it to the Theaters, published by the Empowerment Project in association with National Video Resources, and coming in Fall 2000, You Cross That Line: American Activists Talk About the Process of Change.

Watch a video clip (real player) from Barbara's recent talk at Southwest Missouri State Univeristy.

Download a flyer for Barbara Trent to post for your campus event! (pdf version)  (jpg version)

Read Barbara's Resume.

To book Barbara to speak at your institution contact: 
Empowerment Project
8218 Farrington Mill Rd.
Chapel Hill NC 27517
Phone: 919-928-0382

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Films & Videos | Media Facility Workshops | Speaking Appearances | Resources | Contact Us | Home


  Application of the Critical Theory

Reviewing the documentary "Cover-up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair"
By Walter Jensen

Produced by Barbara Trent, Gary Meyer, and David Kasper
Directed by Barbara Trent
Written by Eve Goldberg
Narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery
Music by Ruben Blades, Richard Elliot, Pink Floyd, and Lou Reed
Distributed by MPI Home Video
Time: 72 Minutes
Release Date: 07-13-1988
UPC Code: 30306-00183

From this video the world has attained proof that Ronald Reagan and George Bush used the American hostages, held by the Iranian government, as a political tool to win the 1980 election. Through the "Freedom of Public Information Act" and the Center for Constitutional Rights, we now know the following:

1. Ronald Reagan, in 1979, sent George Bush, Richard Allen, and Donald Greg to two meetings, one in Paris France and one in Washington DC, to insure Carter was not re-elected. They negotiated with Manchari Gorbanifar (Iranian arms dealer), Bani Sadr (president of Iran and political puppet of the Kohmeni regime), Albert Hakim (arms dealer), and Hashem (diplomat of the Iranian government). Reagan's team promised that the US federal government would sell over one billion US dollars in American weapons to Iran if Iran would not release the American hostages until after the 1980 presidential election.

2. The reason Iran needed the weapons was to defend themselves from Iraq. Reagan sold Iran, with out the approval of United States Congress, military weapons to ensure he would be elected president of the United States, keep the campaign contarbutions from US oil companies flowing, and relieve his unfounded fear that the former Soviet Union was going to invade Iran and Iraq.

Since Reagan had no authority to make such a deal, he had to hide this unethical transaction from the Congress and the American people. He did this by using Oliver North, John M. Poindexer, William Case, and National Security Agency to set-up and maintained his cover-up. The illegal arms deal, starting on March 9, 1981 and continuing into 1986, was built upon an elaborate network of dummy corporations (like Kendal Holding Limited and EATSCO) and numbered bank accounts. The dummy corporation, controlled by Iranian sympathizers, bought weapons from the US government and sold them to another dummy corporation, at a small financial increase. The profits made from the first dummy corporation selling to the second was filtered through the CIA and given to the Contras. The Contras were another political Military organization train by the School of Americas, to stamp out land reform in Central America, violently.

In light of all this information, two questions still remain, "Why aren't the guilty members of this sinister crime serving life sentences in a federal penitentiary, for violating the human rights of the Iranian held American hostages?" AND "Why are individuals like Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Oliver North not seen in the same light as Charles Mansion, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffery Dahmer?

Many nationalist and neo-Conservatives would see the entire Iran/Contra affair not as a cover-up but a good use of political power, an end that justifies the means. They would both see the cover-up as a necessary way to preserve the political and economical structure inside and outside America and a necessary way to maintain, in their opinion, the most advanced society in history, the capitalist system. Both sides believe this action maintained US control in the middle east and kept the oil flowing, regardless of the human suffering and countless human lives that were thrown away all in the name of profit.

For those of you who can not believe the Neo-Conservative trend has white washed the truth don't take my word for it. Rent or buy "Cover-up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair" or read "The Iran Contra Connection: Secret teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era" by Peter Dale Scott and judge for yourself.

Quiz time
Q: When were the Iran Hostages released?
A: January 21, 1981.
The same day as Ronald Reagan's inauguration.

Q: Who picked Reagan's Cabinet?
A: No one really knows.
Paul Slansky, in his book 'The Clothes Have No Emperor: A Chronicle of American 80s (ISBN 0-671-67339-4),' he gives his readers the idea that it wasn't Reagan. See pages 11-16.

Q: How did Ronald Reagan avoid answering critical questions?
A: Humor.
Reagan mocked reporters and political opponents by misdirecting their questions in order to make fun of a particular element of the question which was asked before the crowd. In this way, Reagan avoided answering the question and the laughter from his statement erased the question from the mind of those who heard it. In other words, the laughter disarmed a potentially damaging situation for Reagan (and/or his staff) and kept the truth from being known and/or discussed. To conservatives, Reagan was known as the 'Great Communicator.' However, this was not a title of great respect but a nicely packaged way to ridicule Reagan. Think of it this way: A 350 pound, 5 foot 2 inch tall man, asks a woman if he is fat, she responds, 'No, you're are a slender reed. From that point on, everyone called the fat man 'slender reed.' Even today, conservatives are too dense to pick up on the severely sarcastic meaning behind the phrase 'the Great Communicator.'

Revised 06-07-2004

Return to Main Index, Myths or to a Listing of My Work



                                   Monday February 23, 2009

                                 10:30 - 11:30 AM  / (NYC Time)

                 Channel 34 of the Time/Warner & Channel 83 of the RCN 
                       Cable Television Systems in Manhattan, New York.

The Program can now be viewed on the internet at time of cable casting at


                  NOTE: You must adjust viewing to reflect NYC time

                                          & click on channel 34 at site


                                    241 West 36th StreetNew York,N.Y. 10018 Phone: 212-695-6351 E-Mail: HHC@NYC.RR.COM


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