In William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler explore the life of their father, the late radical civil rights lawyer. In the 1960s and 70s, Kunstler fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and represented the famed Chicago 8 activists who protested the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or when the American Indian Movement stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they asked Kunstler to be their lawyer.
To his daughters, it seemed that he was at the center of everything important that had ever happened. But when they were growing up, Kunstler represented some of the most reviled members of society, including rapists and assassins. This powerful film not only recounts the historic causes that Kunstler fought for; it also reveals a man that even his own daughters did not always understand, a man who risked public outrage and the safety of his family so that justice could serve all.
Catalog Number: MC-1130
Length: 73 minutes
DVD Region: 1
TV System: NTSC
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William Kunstler Disturbing the Universe directed by
In the 1960's and '70's, radical lawyer William Kunstler fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and represented the "Chicago 8" activists who protested the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or when the American Indian Movement stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they asked Kunstler to be their lawyer. But Kunstler also represented some of the most reviled members of society, including rapists and assassins. This powerful film directed by Kunstler's daughters not only recounts the historic causes that Kunstler's daughters not only recount the historic causes that Kunstler fought for, it also reveals a man that his own family did not always understand, a man who risked public outrage and the safety of his loved ones so that justice could serve all.
"A magnificent profile of an irrepressible personality."
2010-05-13The New York Times
The most hated and most loved lawyer in America.
2009-09-07Huffington Post By Alec Baldwin
On Saturday, September 5th, the Hamptons International Film Festival concluded its Summer Documentary series with a screening of William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, produced and directed by Kunstler's daughters, Emily and Sarah. The film covers the life and career of the colorful, at times outrageous, and, often, highly effective attorney. Kunstler's career as a lawyer and activist spanned the civil rights movement in the early 60's, the legendary Chicago Eight case in 1968 (and beyond), the massacre at Attica and its aftermath and the American Indian Movement protests at Wounded Knee in 1973. His later career, almost exclusively as a criminal defense attorney, encompassed John Gotti, the "Central Park Jogger" case, Meir Kahane's assassin and "cop killer" Larry Davis, to name but a few.
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. Kunstler's activities and predilections had a profound effect on his family, including an earlier marriage. Yet, Kunstler's life is a near perfect perspective from which to view the 1960's, 70's and 80's. The film is great history.
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe will premiere theatrically in November in select cities. Their website is www.disturbingtheuniverse.com and I encourage everyone to rush to see this movie and discover/rediscover the life and career of the brilliant William Kunstler. The Hamptons International Film Festival runs October 8th through 12th. For more information, go to www.hamptonsfilmfest.org.
Two other quick items. Thank you to those who corrected my mangling of Ted Kennedy's chronology. Yes, I had EMK running against Carter for the nomination in 1976. Or at least it sounded that way. I often write these things, bleary-eyed, at 1 AM. So, thank you for that correction.
Also, running for the Senate against Joe Lieberman would involve moving to Connecticut and I live in New York. I like New York. I have lived here all my life. My immediate family stretches from the Syracuse area to Nyack in Rockland County to Manhattan to eastern Long Island. I like Connecticut, but I'm not moving there. As for Lieberman, I was amused by his "Make my day" retort. Lieberman, who betrayed his party and whose leadership and ideas are so enervated and in need of replacing? That Lieberman channeling Clint Eastwood? Now that's funny. Ned Lamont in 2012.
2009-09-12thehamptons.com By Douglas Harrington
"Co-Directors Emily and Sarah Kunstler have painted a brilliant and even-handed portrait of a lawyer's journey from a suburban Westchester attorney with a prosperous Manhattan practice to an ardent political activist and legal gadfly."
2010-02-05The Missoula Independent By Andy Smetanka
"For over four decades (granted, with rests) Kunstler seemed to be in the thick of nearly every significant criminal controversy in the United States. He rode along with the vanguard of civil rights protesters in the early '60s."
2010-02-05The Hollywood Reporter By Soozy Duncan
"Disturbing the Universe is a well-edited biographical collage in the concrete style of Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s earlier documentary work including Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War."
0000-00-00The Hollywood Reporter By James Greenberg
"The documentary is expertly put together and never less than compelling. It's a labor of love that helps restore the reputation of a significant player on the American stage in the last half of the 20th century."
2010-02-05The Stranger By Eli Sanders
"This fantastic documentary is about activist lawyer William Kunstler—director of the ACLU, defender of the Chicago Seven, subject of FBI surveillance, mediator at the Attica uprising, lawyer for Abbie Hoffman and Lenny Bruce. . . . It’s a wonderful, weird, and very American story."
2010-02-05The Stranger By Kam Williams
A very moving tribute to an underappreciated hero who spent his life as a tireless defender of the defenseless."
2010-02-05The Huffington Post By Stewart Nusbaumer
This is a sensitive, truthful, insightful film. One about a man who stood at the center of a confrontational movement as it spearheaded a political assault on injustice in America."
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