Arthur "Bestor" Cram, 1967
B.A., Denison University
West Surrey College of Art and Design, Guildford, UK
Filmmaker, President, and Creative Director
Northern Light Productions
Citation awarded on Saturday, June 3, 2017
An economics major and courses in theatre helped guide A. Bestor Cram to lead a nonfiction production company committed to examining the consequences of the lives we lead as evidenced through the documentary arts. He began his film studies at Denison before there was a department. As a senior, he created an independent study with Alan Shevlo ’67, launching his journey toward becoming an award-winning independent documentary director/producer/cinematographer. His work commenting on urgent social issues is seen on television and in museums throughout the country.
Following graduation, Bestor headed to Quantico, Va., for training as a Marine officer. He became a combat engineer and served in Vietnam from TET ’68 to TET ’69. His tour included mine sweeping, bridge building, battalion intelligence and operations assignments, earning the Navy Commendation Medal. Upon his return to the U.S., he filed a request for reclassification as a conscientious objector, but his contract with the Marines ended before the hearings concluded. He then joined John Kerry and became a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Following graduate study in England, he worked in MIT’s Film Studies Program and founded Northern Light Productions, a leading producer of media for museums such as the International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Getty. His most recent broadcast work includes Beyond the Wall about reentry experiences of the formerly incarcerated and Birth of a Movement examining a forgotten battle against the 1915 KKK-friendly silent film The Birth of a Nation. He is working on feature documentaries about a Puerto Rican independence movement, the founding of A.A., and Vietnamese artists interpreting their country’s aftermath. He continues to lecture at various Boston universities and teach at the Maine Media Workshops.
Bestor lives in Newton, Mass., with his wife Penny Hauser Cram ’68, a professor at Boston College. They have two children and a grandchild, too many cars, not enough pets, and a garden that begs for more attention.