A Time For Burning

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February 2, 2023
7:00pm Eastern Time
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Join MPT for a screening and discussion.

A Time for Burning is an Academy Award-nominated documentary by Bill Jersey, one of the pioneers of cinema verité. The 1966 film chronicles an all-white Lutheran church in Omaha, Nebraska, whose idealistic pastor tries to arrange a visitation between his parishioners and those of a nearby all-Black church and the dissention that follows. The film has been remastered by the Academy Film Archive and is being re-released in 2023. The New York Times calls A Time for Burning, “A glowing beauty.”

After the film, MPT's Kate Pearson, managing director, Programming & Acquisitions, will moderate a discussion with the film's distinguished cinematographer, director and producer Bill Jersey; esteemed Yale professor Dr. Kathryn Lofton; and decorated writer, director, and cinematographer Justin Ervin.


Special thanks to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America for partnering with MPT to make this screening event a reality.

Video Descriptions

A Time for Burning opening video

A Time for Burning opening video



A Time for Burning

A Time for Burning, a film by Bill Jersey, documents socially conscious Pastor Bill Youngdahl's unsuccessful efforts to drive reform by arranging visitations between his parish, the Omaha Augustana Lutheran Church, and a nearby black church in 1966. The film aired nationally on public television and was nominated for the Best Documentary Picture Academy Award in 1967.

A Time for Burning hold video

A Time for Burning hold video

71min 32sec


  • Moderator Avatar
    MPT Events Team


  • Panelist Avatar
    Bill Jersey – Producer, Director & Cinematographer


    Bill Jersey has produced film and broadcast documentaries for more than 40 years. In the early 60's he established his reputation as one of the pioneers of the Cinéma vérité movement. He was cinematographer, producer and director of A Time for Burning, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary in 1967. He produced documentaries for all of the major networks and in association with PBS, WNET New York, KCET Los Angeles, WGBH Boston, and others. Jersey's body of work includes two Academy Award nominees: A Time for Burning and Superchief, on the life and legacy Chief Justice Earl Warren. Other award-winning productions include The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow series (Peabody Award), Children of Violence (Emmy), Renaissance (Emmy nomination), Faces of the Enemy (Emmy nomination), Loyalty and Betrayal (Emmy), Hunting the Hidden Dimension (Pierre Gilles deGennes Award), The Making of Amadeus and EAMES: The Architect and the Painter (Peabody Award).

  • Panelist Avatar
    Dr. Kathryn Lofton – Dean of Humanities, Yale


    Dr. Kathryn Lofton is Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies and Professor of History and Divinity at Yale University, where she also serves as FAS Dean of Humanities. A scholar of religion in the United States, she is the author of two books, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon and Consuming Religion, and many articles, including a 2021 essay, “Observational Secular: Religion and Documentary Film in the United States,” that examined A Time for Burning.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Justin Ervin – Writer, Cinematographer & Director


    Justin is an award-winning writer, director and cinematographer of both scripted and non-scripted work. His work has appeared on Netflix, PBS, HBO and Hulu, most recently serving as Cinematographer on the 2022 Netflix Original Documentary IS THAT BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?!? as well as the 2022 narrative feature film RITTENHOUSE SQUARE. Justin earned his MFA in social documentary filmmaking from SVA in NYC and has completed master courses at the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers. As a Writer and Director, he has won multiple awards including Best Documentary at Garden State Film Festival and The Audience Award at New Filmmakers LA. Justin is currently developing a narrative adaptation of A Time for Burning.

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.