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Voices from the Basement is a new 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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Help Save The Basement

There is no place in the world like the original Filene’s Basement.  Edward and Lincoln Filene were visionaries ahead of their time.  Status was left at the door so that everyone had equal access to quality merchandise at bargain prices.  The Filenes were instrumental in establishing many social and economic practices that are commonplace today.  The Filenes department stores’ policies and endowments created:

Minimum Wages
40 Hour Work Week
Profit Sharing
Women’s Rights
Credit Unions
Healthcare (Blue Cross)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Harvard Business School
Tufts University’s Filene Center
Public Television (WGBH)
The (20th) Century Fund
The Lincoln and Therese Filene Fund

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