Report from our New York City festival premiere at BAMcinemaFEST!

Sarah and Emily at our Rooftop screening.

Sarah and Emily at our Rooftop screening.

Last Thursday night was our final screening at BAMcinemaFEST. It was indescribably wonderful to have the opportunity to bring William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe to a hometown crowd. We have been traveling with the film since January, but our screenings at BAMcinemaFEST were our first public screenings for a New York audience. Looking out into an audience of familiar faces, Sarah and I were more nervous than we had been at Sundance.

Our first screening was on Saturday the 20th at BAM Rose Theater. The Off Center bat cave, our hybrid law/video office where the film was produced and edited, is just around the corner from BAM, so it was a real thrill for us to premiere there.

Lynne Stewart, Elizabeth Fink, Jimmy Breslin, Phil Donahue, Sarah, Emily, and Yusef Salaam at the BAM panel.

Lynne Stewart, Elizabeth Fink, Jimmy Breslin, Phil Donahue, Sarah, Emily, and Yusef Salaam at the BAM panel.

Following the screening, some of the stars of our film joined Sarah and me for an inspiring panel discussion. The panel consisted of Bill’s Larry Davis co-counsel Lynne Stewart, Attica lawyer Elizabeth Fink, journalists Jimmy Breslin and Phil Donahue, and Central Park Jogger exoneree Yusef Salaam, and was moderated by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. It was the first time Jimmy and Phil had seen the film, and they entertained the audience with their memories of Bill. Phil talked about having Bill on his show with some of Bill’s more controversial cases and Jimmy told a story about a toast Bill made at the Gambino Crime Family’s Christmas dinner when he stood and said, “Gentleman, here’s to crime.”

A beautiful Brooklyn night for our screening.

A beautiful Brooklyn night for our screening.

Last Thursday night, we had our second and final screening at BAMcinemaFEST. It was an outdoor screening co-sponsored by our friends at Rooftop Films in a parking lot in the shadow of the tallest building in Brooklyn, the Williamsburg Savings Bank building. After days of unceasing rain, we were treated to a beautiful cloudless night, and a sold-out crowd filled with familiar faces.

When we walked up to introduce the film, we were thrilled to find four of our grammar school teachers from the Little RedSchool House. Our music teacher Susan, our 3rd grade teacher Grace, our 1st grade teacher Betsy, and our P.E. teacher Cindy, were sitting together in the front row. It meant so much to Sarah and me that they came out to support us.

The parking lot was on the corner of Lafayette and Flatbush Avenues, we were surrounded by the sounds of the city, and it felt like we had come home. There was so much love at both screenings – thank you so much to everyone who came out to celebrate our film’s homecoming.

Emily and Sarah at the Rooftop Q&A.

Emily and Sarah at the Rooftop Q&A.

This is a film about legacy. It is a film about courage. It is a film about standing up for what you believe in, no matter how unpopular, no matter if you are the only person standing. We hope that those of you who have seen our film were inspired to take action in your own lives. And to help us get this film out there in front of the largest audience possible.

As many of you know, we have a theatrical release with Arthouse Films in the Fall of 2009, and a television broadcast on the award-winning PBS documentary series P.O.V. in the Spring of 2010, but we need your help getting the word out about our film. As a small independent documentary, our advertising budget is limited. We rely on word-of-mouth to get our film out there.

So please stay involved with our film! Forward our updates! Encourage your friends to join our mailing list or join us on Facebook, Myspace or Twitter! And when our film hits theaters in the Fall, come see it again! And bring your friends with you. For more ideas on how you can help spread the word about our film, please visit our website.

Best wishes,
Emily Kunstler

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