Experiencing Interruptions?

EASTLAND: The Shipwreck That Shook America

Thousands of Chicago factory workers (recent immigrants from Europe) boarded the SS Eastland in the summer of 1915, heading to the annual company picnic for a long anticipated day of merriment. But the steamship had a dark secret that the passengers never knew about until it was too late….844 died in a matter of minutes after the ship rolled over in the Chicago River.

“There was no iceberg, no torpedo, no act of God—someone surely did something wrong,”

"It's Chicago, you know, somebody got paid"

EASTLAND: THE SHIPWRECK THAT SHOOK AMERICA reveals how immigrants in America were victimized by rich and powerful men who exploited the legal system to get away with manslaughter—a story not taken from today’s headlines but from a hundred years ago.

EASTLAND includes stories of heroism and heartache including rescuer Reggie Bowles dubbed “The Human Frog;” Helen Repa, a young nurse described as “a badass” who took charge at the scene, and news photographer Jun Fujita, an immigrant himself, who risked his life capturing iconic images of the disaster.

EASTLAND includes rare newsreel footage that city leaders banned from Chicago theaters in 1915.

“Stunningly effective and shockingly memorable…with real-life characters worthy of a
big-budget feature film.”–Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“One of the most compelling and electrifying documentaries I’ve ever seen. A brilliant
film…extraordinary and haunting.”– Chicago Tribune

"Eastland has it all: heroes, villains, corruption, legal shenanigans, carnage, teenage adventurers, greed, humor, injustice, and even romance. This is history at its most vivid" -- Library Journal

The filmmakers hope that Chicago’s most infamous ship disaster and the miscarriage of justice that followed no longer remain one of America’s forgotten tragedies.

  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    54 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    300,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Canada, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD 1080p/24p
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - HARVEY MOSHMAN

Harvey Moshman is a multi-Emmy® Award winning independent producer from Chicago. After a long career in local and network news, Moshman teamed with EASTLAND collaborator Chuck Coppola to create LOST & FOUND: THE SEARCH FOR USS LAGARTO—the discovery of a missing American WWII submarine “overdue from patrol, presumed lost” – that aired nationally on Public Television and garnered three Midwest Emmys®. His most recent documentary was HEROES ON DECK: WORLD WAR II ON LAKE MICHIGAN that continues its current run on PBS stations. His current series credits include producing WILD TRAVELS, a guide to America’s most unusual, offbeat and quirky destinations, seen nationally on PBS stations.

Add Director Biography