Sunday, January 30, 2011

Superb Film: "William Kunstler - Disturbing the Universe"

Watched an amazing and heart warming film William Kunstler Disturbing the Universe, at the Fort Lauderdale film festival in the lovely Cinema Paradiso in downtown Fort Lauderdale here is the synopsis from a PBS showing:


William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe examines the life of this radical attorney from a surprising angle. Kunstler’s two daughters from his second marriage grew up lionizing a man already famous for his historic civil rights and anti-war cases. Then, in their teens, they began to be disillusioned by a stubborn man who continued representing some of the most reviled defendants in America — this time accused rapists and terrorists. In this intimate biography, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler seek to recover the real story of what made their late father one of the most beloved, and hated, lawyers in America. Winner of the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Vision Award, 2009 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.

The film takes the viewer down into the famed freedom fighters life from the perspective of two of his daughters Emily and Sarah. You see his pre-fame life as a soldier as a family man in upstate New York and as an early civil rights attorney until the events that changed his life working to support the freedom riders who support those brave souls who liberated lunch counters and eventually the hearts of many across the south. And while racism, wasn't limited to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida it was simply at it's open and ugliest display there.

While it might seem trivial to some unimaginative historically illiterate souls that water fountains, hotel rooms, restrooms, and voting booths wee off limits to peoples of color just fifty short years ago. Those of us who lived those years, and saw that slow evolution these were epochal struggles. Watching human rights established as the bloody fingers of oppression were pried off the throats of so many could not but affect many Americans.

Watching Dr. King and so many other brave nameless individuals stand against batons, police dogs, fire hoses and lawful murderous legally sanctioned racism to reclaim their humanity from a power structure  unwilling to grant humanity, much-less civic rights. Watching those scenes replay made all of us in the theatre remember those awful days, and the bravery demanded of so many, in an era that transformed our country from a land that sanctioned open apartheit, to a country that was prepared to work toward a new civic justice. A journey that remains an unfulfilled promise.

The film took us back to a watch a young lawyer transformed from a simple small town lawyer, into a firebrand who stood high atop the barricades to defend civil rights activists, anti-war activists, First American activists. We relived the travails of political show trials like the Chicago Eight, and the tragedy that was the Attica massacre. The story of the his spiritual kinship and awakening attained through the   struggles defending the First Americans at Wounded Knee.  We met his second family and saw, Mr. Kunstler, not just as a freedom fighter who time and again stood with defendants against the voice of the mob, after the press and public had already reached their verdict, but also as a family man with two precocious daughters. 

And we joined the mourners, who gathered at the final ceremony for the freedom fighter who defended the unpopular, the revolutionary, and the politically engaged in a life that mattered. And all of that , through the eyes and the voices of two daughters that honored, challenged and loved him greatly.

"William Kunstler  disturbing the Universe" a film every activist should see.
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