Sue Edbril's '75 Documentary on Filene's Basement

Dr. Susan Edbril (Class of 1975) co-produced a documentary, "Voices From The Basement", about the original Filene's Basement (the most famous bargain basement in the world). It aired on Boston's public television numerous times, including Thanksgiving Day, and was nominated for a Boston Emmy.


Voices from the Basement is a documentary film about Boston’s beloved 100-year-old icon – the original Filene’s Basement. The film is a journey back to a time when the American Dream was accessible to everyone who walked through the doors of The Basement. The Brahmins of Beacon Hill stood in line with the waitresses from Durgin Park with equal access to the same high-quality, discounted merchandise for which Filene’s Basement is best known.

In the film, celebrities, politicians, employees, and loyal shoppers passionately share their stories about this landmark institution that has been one of Boston’s most visited tourist attractions for generations.

Dr. Susan Edbril embarked on capturing these stories more than 10 years ago to honor her grandmother and the women who worked in The Basement. In 2005, Edbril met filmmaker Michael Bavaro, and they shortly began film production.

The history of Filene’s Basement is captured through newsreels, archival footage, vintage photographs and audio recordings. The founders, Edward and Lincoln Filene, were two of the leading retail pioneers who helped shape many of the social and economic paradigms that have made America great. From employee health care to the formation of credit unions, the Filene brothers were 20th Century visionaries.

Throughout the course of production, the producers were witness to history as it transpired. With the closing of the downtown store in 2007, they were there to capture it all.

Notables interviewed include; Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Governor Michael Dukakis, Congressman Barney Frank, CBS news legend Mike Wallace, Academy-Award Winning Actress Estelle Parsons, Boston journalists Peter Mehegan and Susan Wornick.

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