Valley filmmaker premieres Jim Traficant documentary

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WYTV) — A Mahoning Valley filmmaker showed off his work Saturday in a 90-minute documentary on the late Jim Traficant.

Director Eric Murphy’s film, “Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown,” was shown Saturday as a part of the Cleveland International Film Festival. It describes the life of the congressman, shows how he we went from a high school football player, to a politician in Washington.

“Growing up at my grandmother’s house, you heard Jesus Christ, JFK, and Jim Traficant. And not always in that order. He was ubiquitous,” said Murphy.

Murphy talked about how many people have heard of Congressman Jim Traficant.

Hundreds of them showed up at the Akron Library to watch his documentary.

Murphy said being around other people who talked about Traficant’s life is what inspired him.

“I would hear all these stories of Jim’s charisma, how he beat the charges in the first case, and it just really sucked me in,” Murphy said.

Traficant spent seven years in prison after he was charged with organized crime and bribery. He was expelled from Congress in 2002.

Murphy and his team began working on the film after Traficant was released from prison in the summer of 2009.

“We’ve been working on it ever since. Came back in 2010 filmed when he ran for Congress, and been editing for the past couple years,” he said.

“I’m here to evaluate the film actually,” added Linda Kovachik of Youngstown.

Kovachik worked for Traficant as a staff representative. She knew him personally.

“There’s so much good about Jim Traficant. I hope that there’s some good in this film, because if there isn’t, I would be upset from the negativity,” said Kovachik.

“I think we’ve made a really entertaining, poignant film about a larger than life character. I think it’s important to note that the film wouldn’t have happened without Jim living the life he lived. His life was extraordinary,” finished Murphy.

Traficant died in September at age 73 after a tractor accident on his family’s farm near Youngstown.

Murphy said this film is so popular that the venue had to be changed.

Those who missed Saturday night’s viewing can catch the film Sunday in Cleveland at Tower City at 4 p.m. and on Monday at noon.

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