Panel Discussion: Blacklist Exiles in Mexico
Tuesday, Apr 02, 2019, 8:30PM
Osher Lecture Hall
800 Chestnut Street

Blacklist Exiles in Mexico

Moderator: Ed Rampell
Panelists: Margot Pepper, Michael Butler, Diana Zykofsky Anhalt, Tony Kahn, Dr. James Kahn, Lynne Odenheim Kalmar

The panel focuses on first-hand accounts of US cold war repression from survivors of the internationalist exile community in Mexico, parallels to today’s political climate, lessons learned and survival and circumvention tips.



Moderator ED RAMPELL was named after Edward R. Murrow because of his CBS-TV expose of Senator Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College, then moved to Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii and Micronesia, reporting on the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement for ABC News’ “20/20,” Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand, NewsWeek, and others. In 1989 he set a First Amendment precedent in the Ninth Circuit Court. Rampell relocated to L.A. In 1999 and has written for: Progressive Magazine, Washington Post, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, In These Times, Variety, Progressive Populist, Earth Island Journal, and co-founded As a film historian, Rampell has appeared in documentaries and authored Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States and co-authored three books on Pacific Islanders onscreen, including The Hawaii Movie and Television Book. Rampell co-presented film series commemorating the Russian Revolution’s 100th anniversary and Karl Marx’s bi-centennial and moderated two Left Coast Forums. Rampell co-presented and wrote 2017’s Hollywood Blacklist 70th anniversary Commemoration at Beverly Hills’ WGA Theater, aired nationwide by C-SPAN.

MARGOT PEPPER is an author, journalist, and adjunct faculty at San Francisco Art Institute. Her research interests include Cuba and her cold war-exiled Hollywood community living in Mexico. In 1992, Pepper was one of a handful of foreign journalists granted a Cuban work visa. Her memoir of this post-Soviet “Special Period,” "Through the Wall: A Year in Havana," was a top American Book Award nominee. Her other books include poetry, "At This Very Moment," and the dystopian science-fiction thriller, "American Day Dream." Her work has been published internationally by Canada’s "The Scoop," "Prensa Latina," "Granma International," "Utne Reader," "Common Dreams," "Monthly Review," "Z-net," "Counterpunch," "Dollars & Sense," "NACLA," "City Lights," "SF Bay Guardian," "Hampton Brown," "Rethinking Schools," "El Andar" and elsewhere. She’s the daughter of blacklisted film producer George Pepper, alias George P. Werker. Margot’s parents, Jeanette and George Pepper, fled to Mexico in 1951 to escape political persecution in the United States. They remained there nearly 20 years. Margot was born and resided in Mexico until she was eight years old.

MICHAEL BUTLER is a screen and television writer with a background in documentary filmmaking. A graduate of Columbia and UCLA, Michael worked for filmmakers Robert Gardner and Haskell Wexler between 1961 and 1974. He began writing for TV in 1972 in partnership with Christopher Trumbo and later wrote several feature films with Dennis Shryack. From 1985 through 2005 Michael wrote TV pilots and movies. Michael’s parents, screenwriter Hugo Butler and actress and author Jean Rouverol Butler, left the United States to escape political persecution in 1951 (when Michael was ten years old) and settled in Mexico City, where they remained for ten years, living next door to muralist Diego Rivera. With the erosion of the Blacklist, Hugo and Jean moved to Rome, returning to the U.S. in 1963. Hugo died in Los Angeles in 1967, when Michael was 25 years old. Hugo wrote the four films screened at this festival.

DIANA ZYKOFSKY ANHALT is a poet and author. She has worked as an editor, book critic and teacher. She is the author of “A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1948-1965” (Archer Books) translated into Spanish as “Voces Fugitivas……” by Mexico’s Relaciones Exteriores. The book is groundbreaking for its investigation of the role of the FBI and surveillance of the exiled Hollywood and cold war community in Mexico. Her work is featured in the anthology, “Red Diapers: Growing Up in the Communist Left “(University of Illinois), “Leap Years: Women Reflect on Change, Loss and Love” (Beacon) and “Home: An Imagined Landscape” (Solis Press.) Her work and interviews have appeared on BBC Radio, El Nacional, Mexico City Times, Grand Tour, The Texas Observer, Atención, Voices of Mexico, Jewish Currents, Midstream, Under the Sun, Passager and in the Southwest Review. Diana Anhalt's parents, Belle and Meyer Zykofsky fled to Mexico to escape political persecution in the United States when Diana was 8 years old. Diana resided in Mexico for sixty years, raising a family. Her parents resided there for 32 years until Diana was 40 years old. Diana remained in Mexico twenty-eight more years.

TONY KAHN is a veteran host and producer on public radio and television. He is best known as a panelist on Public Radio’s longest running quiz show, “Says You.” The younger son of Hollywood blacklisted screenwriter Gordon Kahn, he has told the story of his family’s fifteen years of exile and FBI surveillance in the award-winning NPR docudrama “Blacklisted” and the Emmy Nominated A&E documentary, “The Day the Cold War Came Home.” Mr. Kahn became one of the country’s first podcasters in 2004. He was also the original host of Public Radio’s international (PRI) news show “The World.” Tony’s father, Gordon, fled to Mexico to escape political persecution in 1951. Later that year Gordon Kahn’s wife Barbara, Tony, his elder brother, Jim, and their Aunt Janet Brodie, joined him in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where they resided until June, 1955. Tony was six when he arrived in Mexico, ten when they left. Soon after their return to the US, Gordon Kahn was subpoenaed by an anti-Communist committee run by the Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire and threatened with prison for his refusal to cooperate.

Dr. JAMES KAHN's father was screenwriter Gordon Kahn, author of the acclaimed chicano novel "A Long Way From Home" and "Hollywood on Trial," a history of the 1947 indictments and HUAC hearings. An Honors graduate of Harvard Medical School, James Kahn’s long-standing interest in tropical public health and his language fluencies made him an ideal candidate for the Centers for Disease Control’s epidemiology group and he was commissioned as their Parasitic Diseases Drug Officer in 1969. He was uniquely qualified for the promised assignments to Latin America but, after he began serving, was told that - as a "security risk" - he'd been ruled ineligible to perform any such functions. After obtaining his FBI file, he learned the “risk” was that he was Gordon Kahn’s son. He opened a private practice. Years later he was recruited by Johnson & Johnson. In 1992, he was given the title Distinguished Clinical Scientist and established the company's Infectious Diseases program. James’s father, Gordon Kahn, fled to Mexico to escape political persecution in 1951. James was nearly nine when he and his family, including his younger brother Tony Kahn, joined Gordon in Mexico at the end of that year. The family resided there for four years until June, 1955 when James was thirteen

LYNNE ODENHEIM KALMAR is a longtime educator and activist. Beloved by her students that have offered her second homes throughout the world, Lynne taught English as a Second Language for 53 years. While living in Mexico, she taught Olympic guides and at the School for Translators and Interpreters. She was also co-chair of Americans Abroad for MacGovern in 1972, three years prior to her return to the U.S. Her television appearances include promoting bilingual and bicultural harmony, (Let all Our Struggles be Won / Juntos Venceremos); a public service announcement, recruiting for the Comprehensive Training and Employment Act and an interview of her facilitating a group to reduce racism called The Color of Change, funded by the Anti-Defamation League. She is now happily retired and in the process of writing an autobiography of her life in Mexico. Lynne Odenheim Kalmar’s parents, Kurt and Celia Odenheim moved to Mexico City with their four children in 1954 to escape political persecution. Lynne was 10. The family remained there until her father's death in 1970 at which point her mother returned to the U.S. Lynne remained in Mexico for a total of 21 years, starting a family there


This event is part of SFAI’s Visiting Artist + Lecture Series presents BREAKING THROUGH THE BLACKLIST FILM FEST: THE BUÑUEL-BUTLER-PEPPER TRIO.