: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Development


The untold story of Anna Rosenberg, advisor to four presidents, who fought mid-century sexism, racism, and extremism to help shape modern America.


A mid-century political force, Anna Rosenberg conquered a “man’s world” of business, politics, and defense, to advise four presidents. She fought for Blacks and women in the defense industry and military, then defied McCarthyism to serve in the Pentagon. Why was she lost to history? How was she found again?


To truly understand our past, we must seek out the stories of the unsung heroes and heroines who labored behind the scenes in the struggles for civil rights, for democracy, for truth in the face of demagoguery.

Anna Rosenberg’s contribution to our country—serving presidents, integrating the defense industry and armed services— has been overlooked by mainstream narratives. Her story bears witness to the ongoing fight for equality.

We hope to contribute to the creation of a more inclusive tapestry that reflects the diversity of our world and the profound impact of individuals who have been overlooked and consigned to the margins.

This historical documentary will make extensive use of footage and photographs from the 1920s through the 1960s. The theme of “widening the lens” will be underscored visually. There are many photos of Anna Rosenberg when she is literally the only woman in the room as we zoom out from presidents FDR, Truman, LBJ and JFK, or from generals Marshall or Eisenhower to reveal the petite woman with the fashionable hat standing at their sides.

Anna’s personal correspondence, voiced over by actors, will breathe life into her vivacious character as she offered counsel to presidents and solace to soldiers on the frontlines. The narrative will unfold on multiple levels, weaving together archival film, photos, and documents with verité sequences, as we follow a dedicated teacher and his high school students in pursuit of lost facts.

Collaborating with biographer Christopher Gorham, who will serve as our guide us through Rosenberg’s archive and introduce us to her family and remaining colleagues, the film represents both a “rediscovery” of Anna Rosenberg and a “mystery” about the vanishing of an influential woman from the official record.


Peter L. Bull - co-director/producer
Peter Bull is a documentary filmmaker and a four-time Emmy-winning writer/producer/director of documentaries for public, network and cable television. He helped launch the PBS weekly public affairs program NOW WITH BILL MOYERS as senior producer, a role he also played on the CBS series WHISTLEBLOWER and on the prizewinning ABC News series, HOPKINS 24/7. Over a long career, he has specialized in producing and directing compelling nonfiction environmental, historical, and political narratives. He wrote and directed a 90-minute feature documentary film, DIRTY BUSINESS: ‘Clean Coal’ and the Battle for Our Energy Future in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), which premiered at the Full Frame documentary festival. Also in collaboration with CIR, he wrote and produced HOT POLITICS for the PBS series FRONTLINE, about the politics of climate change. Other credits include directing EARTH, episode four of the Netflix series, COOKED with author Michael Pollan, and he wrote and produced REDEFINING WAR, the concluding hour of the PBS series WOMEN, WAR & PEACE. Peter earned his MFA at the Visual Arts Dept. at U.C. San Diego and his BA at Yale. In addition to his four News & Documentary Emmys, his work has been recognized by DuPont/Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Overseas Press Club, Cine Golden Eagle, and Christopher Awards, among others.

Gail Ablow - co-director/producer
Gail Ablow is a writer, director, and producer with a long history of producing documentaries, long-form television, and multimedia. Her short documentary, American Beat: Cops and Refugees Join Forces in Boise, was featured in the Justice Film Festival and broadcast on PBS World in 2018. It won a 2018 NW Regional Emmy. She helped launch the PBS series, Family Pictures USA in 2019. For many years Gail was a staff writer, long-form, and documentary producer for Bill Moyers, earning 3 Emmy nominations for On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying in America, LBJ’s Path to War, and an interview with Rep. Henry Waxman. At ABC News, her documentary work was recognized with a Cine Golden Eagle Award for The Century: America’s Time, Shell Shock, and, working with director Peter Bull, an Edward R. Murrow Award for Turning Point: When Children Accuse, Who to Believe? Gail earned her master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and her undergraduate degree from Harvard College. She was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, and a Carnegie Corporation of NY Visiting Media Fellow.


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