Filmmakerclaire filming

Excerpted from a recent article… Claire Burch was a tiny woman
with a video camera always in hand,
she was a familiar figure in People’s Park and on Telegraph Avenue.
Since coming to Berkeley from
New York 30 years ago, she shot thousands of hours of footage and produced dozens of videos of well-known and ordinary people, showing their struggles and successes, joys and pains. She cared especially about people on the fringes, people who are homeless or mentally ill, young people living on the streets with only a dog for a steady companion. She would spend hours recording homeless people telling of their struggles to survive. She filmed homeless encampments and wacky rituals performed by street people on the Avenue or in People’s Park. People knew they could trust her to convey their stories with compassion. She once said to me, “If I’ve done anything in my life that has any value, I think it’s that maybe I have managed to give more of a voice to the people who I call street survivors.” She wrote several books about homeless people in Berkeley, adding her poetry and pictures to their own words. From time to time she had showings of her films in the Bay Area. Recently she showed People’s Park, Then and Now at a benefit for Food Not Bombs. She showed a film about James Baldwin—who was a friend from her early years in New York—at a Berkeley film festival. Two years ago the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship sponsored an evening of her films. Claire’s life was an inspiration. She was deeply committed to the people and causes she cared about. All who knew her appreciate not only what she did but the human being that she was.


Partial Film List
  • Peoples Park, Then and Now
  • Behind the Bandbox
  • The James Baldwin Anthology
  • Who Killed Rosebud?
  • Oracle Rising
  • Timothy Leary is Dead
  • We The People
  • Stranger on the Planet
  • Street Surviors