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The Bootlegger Film Screening


  • Cafe Berlin 220 North 10th Street Columbia, MO, 65201 United States (map)

THE BOOTLEGGER is a nonfiction feature film, based on the 1998 book by John E. Hallwas, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Nonfiction. It is the story of Colchester, Illinois and its most famous historical figure, a hometown gangster turned folk hero named Henry “Kelly” Wagle.

Although he died 87 years ago, Wagle remains controversial in Colchester, where alcohol is still illegal to sell. He is legendary for his good deeds and slick driving, but he is also notorious for his violent temper and dark secrets. To this day, Wagle is the central figure in not one but two unsolved murder cases.

THE BOOTLEGGER takes a fresh approach to a historical documentary. It is presented without a central narrator, without period music (except one song), and without recreations. Rather than an essay film with a plainly stated thesis, it is an evocative crime thriller full of doubt and mystery.