It is a privilege to report on some of the highlights of the past few months. I returned yesterday from our International Premiere in Deauville, France at the Deauville Festival Du Cinema Americain. As the name suggests, the festival only screens films made in the United States, and it felt like there were more American flags hanging in Deauville for the festival than there are in all of Washington DC.
The French audience was terrific. Although Bill was an American lawyer, his story of courage and standing up for justice transcends geographical boarders. Many do not know this, but Bill was actually a French major in college. In my lifetime, I only saw him speak French to Haitian cabdrivers when he was rushing to the airport, but Bill had a great love of the language and would have been thrilled that France hosted our international premiere.
On September 4th, on the 14th anniversary of Bill’s death, we marked the occasion with a screening at Guild Hall in East Hampton, hosted by Alec Baldwin, as the closing film of the Hamptons Film Festival Summer Doc Series.
Our aunt and uncle, Howard and Barbara Morse, hosted a very special reception before the screening for our family and crew. In addition to Howard and Barbara, we shared the occasion with our mother, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, our sister and brother-in-law, Karin Kunstler Goldman and Neil Goldman, and our cousins Jon, Aaron, and Lisa Morse. From our crew, we were thrilled to have our composer Shahzad Ismaily, our graphic designer Christopher Zucker, our family photographer Maddy Miller, our associate producer Tracy Bunting, and our mentor Kathy Engel in attendance for this special evening.
The East Hampton audience adored the film, and Alec Baldwin hosted the evening and moderated a spirited discussion following the screening. Attorney Gerry Lefcourt joined us on stage for the discussion and spoke of Bill’s effect on him and other young movement lawyers during the 1960s and 70s. We discussed social movements past and present and the spirit of dissent and rebellion today.
After the screening, Alec Baldwin did a piece for the Huffington Post in which he wrote, “This is a wonderful film and Emily and Sarah Kunstler have done a remarkable job in presenting their famous father in an honest, critical light.” Read the full article here.
On August 19th we were invited by the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival to present the film as part of their summer documentary series. It was the first time either Sarah or I had been to the island, and we were completely intoxicated by its beauty. The festival put us up for two days in Menemsha, and for the first time in a long while we had time to relax and reflect on our screening tour thus far.
We were very excited to have Cora and Peter Weiss in the audience for the Martha’s Vineyard screening. Cora was a witness during the Chicago conspiracy trial and entertained us all with stories about Bill examining her on the stand. Peter talked about Bill’s last speech at SUNY Buffalo, and how he tried to inspire the students to take up the mantle and stand up against injustice by recounting the story of Moby Dick and how at the close of the book, Ishmael returned to sea alone to continue the fight after everyone from his crew had been killed by the great whale. Also in attendance was fellow radical filmmaker Abby Ginzberg, one of our consulting producers Charles Vogl, and old family friend Ed Rothschild.
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