“My Fugitive” Event & Discussion

30th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival

Special event (in-person) with documentarian and local media host

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics is pleased to sponsor a special event at the St. Louis International Film Festival making it free to attendees.

Nina Gilden Seavey was 12 years old on May 4, 1970, the day the Air Force ROTC building on the Washington University campus burned to the ground in an anti-war protest. Her father, civil-rights attorney Louis Gilden, represented several students arrested and sentenced on federal charges, the only such charges levied against protesters in the U.S. One of them, Howard Mechanic, fled and became one of the longest-running fugitives in U.S. history. As an adult, documentarian Seavey (Emmy-winning “A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America,” SLIFF selection “The Ballad of Bering Strait”) picked up the trail, intent on finding out what really happened that night on the campus of Washington University and why these students suffered such unique and intense punishment. Her decade-long investigation, originally conceived as a documentary, culminated in the eight-part podcast series “My Fugitive.” Now, more than 50 years later, Seavey returns to the proverbial scene of the crime.

St. Louis Public Radio host Sarah Fenske and Seavey will engage in a wide-ranging discussion about “My Fugitive” and the tangled story it uncovered. Using film and audio clips, the program will revisit St. Louis in the late 1960s and ’70s — a hotbed of intrigue that included confidential informants, Russian moles, and a conspiracy to murder a civil-rights icon, all with links to the night of May 4, 1970, on the Washington University campus.

Before the event, audience members are encouraged to listen to “My Fugitive” — available at multiple podcast sources — and then participate in the discussion with their own questions.

Nina Gilden Seavey, who will be honored at the film festival with the Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award, is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian with a 30-year career in the non-fiction world. Her media projects can be seen in theaters, on television, in digital and ancillary media, and in museum exhibitions across the globe. Seavey served the Founding Director of The Documentary Center in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University from 1990-2020.  She concurrently served as the Co-Director of the Center for Innovative Media.  She currently holds the academic rank of Research Professor of History and Media and Public Affairs with appointments in both the Department of History and in the School of Media and Public Affairs in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to her academic appointment at GW, Seavey was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University from 2017-2019. She is the President of Seavey Media. 

Nina is a St. Louis native and graduate of University City High School. She attended Washington University, earning a B.A. in history and French literature. Before moving to the East Coast to become a documentarian, Nina worked in Missouri politics. As office manager for the Missouri State Headquarters, she was the youngest paid staff member of the McGovern for President Campaign in 1972. She later worked in St. Louis for the United Farm Workers Union, Tom Eagleton for Senate, and Morris Udall for President.

Sarah Fenske, “St. Louis on the Air” Host/Producer, joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of the show in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis. She won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her work in Phoenix exposing corruption at the local housing authority. She also won numerous awards for column writing, including multiple first place wins from the Arizona Press Club, the Association of Women in Journalism (the Clarion Awards) and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. From 2015 to July 2019, Sarah was editor in chief of St. Louis’ alt-weekly, the Riverfront Times.

This free in-person screening does not require a ticket. Free parking is available on the street and in the yellow-zone sections of lots along Forsyth Boulevard and in the nearby East End parking facility; no permits are required on weekends.

Proof of full vaccination is required at SLIFF. See all Covid-19 health protocols here.


  • Nina Gilden Seavey

  • Sarah Fenske