Richard Breland, featured in the new documentary, "Syracuse's 15th Ward and Beyond," walks the red carpet on his way into the premiere on May 22nd. Photo by Stephen Sartori, (c) Syracuse University, used with permission.
FOR SOME PEOPLE, there will be something familiar about Richard Breland. Tall and elegant, a native of the old 15th Ward and a long-time photographer, Breland contributed some of his own photos and was interviewed for "Syracuse's 15th Ward and Beyond." In fact, he and his brother Manny grew up alongside another photographer, Marjory Wilkins, in a neighboring flat at the same address on East Adams Street. All three attended the new, hour-and a-half documentary screened for a packed crowd of over 250 people last Saturday afternoon at Syracuse Stage's Storch Theatre. The reservation-only event was full two weeks in advance. The catered reception at one o'clock had live music by Ronnie Leigh and a Hollywood-style entrance for cast members, who arrived by limo at the red carpet amidst applause and flash bulbs. Richard Breland has graciously welcomed Central New York cinema patrons for years at various theaters -- he's currently at Regal Cinemas Shoppingtown -- and he seemed particularly to relish walking the red carpet himself.
Inside, Breland said he'd just returned from Washington in time for this. "There were 3,000 people there," he said. "We were there from the Peoples' Action Network to protest what the banks have been doing. We were there for three days."
He laughed, "No, there wasn't much coverage!"
After a beat, Breland confided, "One time we went to Chicago to protest a bankers' meeting and I infiltrated. I dressed up in a suit like a banker and went right in like I belonged there and no one challenged me. I talked right along with them. Some of our group were thrown out -- Rich Puchalski was -- but they didn't bother me. I stayed right there and I even took pictures of our group being thrown out. I said, 'Oh dear'" -- he mimicked genteel disdain -- "'let me get a picture of that.'"