Kent State professor’s May 4 heroism featured in 46th annual Cleveland film festival

Baylee Sweitzer, Reporter

KSU faculty member Glenn Frank talking to a crowd of people, blood in parking lot is visible in background. (Courtesy of Kent State University Library Special Collections and Archives)

“I don’t care whether you’ve never listened to anyone before in your lives. I am begging you right now. If you don’t disperse right now, they’re going to move in, and it can only be a slaughter. Would you please listen to me? Jesus Christ, I don’t want to be a part of this!”

These were the famous words of geology professor Glenn Frank to students engaged in a face-off with the Ohio National Guard in his famous speech May 4, 1970. The speech is featured in the short film, “American Heartbreak: The Glenn Frank Story.”

The film is about Frank, who intervened and saved students after Ohio National Guardsmen killed four unarmed students and wounded nine on May 4, 1970. The event becoming known as the Kent State Shooting or the Kent State Massacre. The film was created by Dale Omori and Harlan Spector. It will be featured in the 46th Cleveland International Film Festival.

The film was directed, produced and screenwritten by Omori and Spector. The film’s cinematography and editing was done by Omori.

“Our story really begins with his speech and talks about how the tragedy and what followed the tragedy transformed him as a person,” Spector said.

The film creators knew of Glenn Frank, but they did not know that his son Alan was one of the students at the rally that day, or what happened to Glenn afterwards.

Omori and Spector began talking in Jan. 2020 about doing a project for the 50th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic they did not go out to film at the 50th anniversary, but ended up releasing the film Nov. 2021.

“The one thing we didn’t want to do was do another piece on May 4 itself. I think we felt like so much of that material has been covered and I think we both felt that there was not much new that we could add to that dialog or to that story,” Omori said. “When we came across Glenn Frank’s story, especially with Alan and then finding out that Alan was still in town, that really piqued our interest.”

Frank did not witness the shooting but immediately following it he went to the rally and gave a famous speech to students. His pleas moved them to leave the rally, which potentially saved a lot of lives that day, according to the film.

“It really showed us the impact that one person can have and the fact that he was so respected and beloved as a teacher,” Omori said. “That’s why he was able to get those students to move. They were shocked that he was so passionate, they respected him and they felt that he was being honest with them. I think they trusted him.”

Frank is well-known for his actions that day, but the film creator believed that his life following the event was an untold story.

“When it comes to May 4th, what happened to Glenn Frank is an overlooked story,” Spector said. “His deed has been recognized, but I think his life and the tragedy of what happened to him is an untold story, and that’s why we wanted to tell it.”

The filmmakers often look to tell untold stories and give a voice to the voiceless, but Frank’s story was a special project for them.

“Glenn Frank was pretty vocal. He was very well known for his views. But underneath all that, there was a lot of anguish,” Omori said. “With Frank, there’s so many layers there. I’m not sure we did it justice in 15 minutes, but we tried our best.”

Screenings of the film will be held in-person at Allen Theatre April 7 at 9:50 p.m. and can be streamed from April 10 at 11 a.m. until April 17 at 11:59 p.m. Tickets for both screenings can be bought at the Cleveland International Film Festival’s website and the trailer can be found on Vimeo.

Baylee Sweitzer is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]