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Film Aimed at Reviving Page Program

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Benjamin Talus (left) and Gabriela Perla, both former House pages, met with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (right) and his aide Matt Kretman in September to urge that the House Page Program be reinstated.

The teaser goes on to feature testimonials from veterans of the page program who underscore the narrative that pages are more than flag distributors and door holders. Rather, given the privilege of so much access and responsibility, pages perhaps know better how to navigate the halls of Congress than some Members themselves.

“If you really want to know about Senators or Congressmen, ask the pages, because it’s the pages who watch them day in and day out,” a former page recalled in an interview.

In other interviews, former program participants recalled their favorite memories from their page days.

John McConnell, a Senate page in 1981 and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, described the excitement of being on the House floor at the State of the Union and seeing his hero, President Ronald Reagan.

Felda Looper, the first female House page, appointed in 1973, remembers the thrill of being among the last to leave the Capitol at the end of a workday and getting to wander the hallowed halls alone.

Other former pages, including current and former Members of Congress, describe the experience of being on Capitol Hill during transformative, and frightening, moments in history.

They were there during the 1954 shooting by four Puerto Rican nationalists on the House floor, and when the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) learned that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been shot — at that moment, he was presiding over the Senate floor.

One short section of the teaser focuses primarily on the cancellation of the House Page Program.

“One of the reasons why the page system was killed with no notice is because the people who wanted to kill the program knew that their argument could not withstand scrutiny,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley opines in the teaser.

Producers, who hope to shop the documentary to major networks after its completion, said they aimed to be objective in their representation of the program, including the low points such as the infamous page sex scandal involving ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

But the current 15-minute cut is largely positive, which Papazian suggested reflected the overlapping experiences of the pages they interviewed.

“The universal theme was the real value this program was to young people,” he said.

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