Skip to main content

NY Emmy® Nomination Announcement

Meet the Filmmaker: Sumner Jules Glimcher

Meet the Filmmaker: Sumner Jules Glimcher
“The Panama Canal: History & Operation”

Date: Monday, September 20, 2010
Location: NY NATAS, 1375 Broadway (between 37th and 38th Streets), Suite 2103
Reception: 6:00-6:30 PM~ Program: 6:30-8:00 PM

*Free to NY NATAS Members!
$15 for those without current NY NATAS membership

The story of the construction of the Panama Canalis one of the most amazing “truth is stranger than fiction” events in modern history. It involved two larger than life figures: the first, Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French aristocrat who had previously built the Suez Canal; the second, our own Teddy Roosevelt, who fomented a revolution in Colombiawhen its then-ruling junta refused to sign a treaty most favorable to the U.S. Colombia at that time owned the Isthmus of Panama.

De Lesseps, aged 60, formed a French company, raised millions of French Francs and began his attack on the Panamanian peninsula in 1881. But by 1889, his efforts, plagued by disease, had caused the deaths of almost 22,000 men due to malaria and yellow fever. This massive failure almost caused the financial collapse of the French Empire.

In 1904, after Teddy Roosevelt had become President due to the assassination of President William McKinley, he purchased all the equipment, homes and other structures abandoned by the French, and hired William Gorgas as chief medical officer, and John Stevens, the expert railroad man who had built the “Great Northern,” as chief engineer. Gorgas suspected that the mosquito was the carrier of the two deadly diseases and he made an all-out effort to eliminate the mosquito. Within five months, both malaria and yellow fever totally disappeared. The digging began apace. After the digging was completed, locks on both the Atlanticand Pacific sides were constructed, a huge artificial lake was made as well as the enormous Gatun Dam which kept the water level on the lake higher than all the locks thus enabling all the locks to be filled and emptied by gravity alone. The engineering of this enormous event was a mark of pure genius. The complete story was written by David McCullough in his incredible book “The Path Between the Seas.”

Sumner Jules Glimcher was a lecturer on a luxury cruise liner transiting the Canal on a cruise that ended up in Alaska. After shooting his transit on video, he read McCullough’s book and then spent months in the Library of Congress researching still images depicting the work of digging the Canal, installing the locks, creating one of the largest artificial lakes and dams in history and completing the Canal in 1914. The result is: “The Panama Canal:  History & Operation.”

Mr. Glimcher began his career at NBC, then worked for Radio Free Europe in Munich; pioneered in creating the first independent international broadcast news service, the precursor of CNN; worked for WOR & RKO General; taught at Harvard, Columbia and most recently as the Director of the Film Department at NYU’s School of Continuing Education; and has made scores of documentaries which have been awarded more than three dozen major national and international awards. He has lectured on eleven luxury cruise liners, and has been a consultant to the President of Harvard, to the United Nations, and for more than twenty years to the Consulate General of Japan.
Please RSVP via email to to reserve a seat. Use film title "The Panama Canal" in subject line of email.

Produced & Moderated by Sumner Jules Glimcher


Mon, Sept. 20, 2010
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
(GMT-0500) US/Eastern


1375 Broadway, Suite 2103
New York, NY 10018