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William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe

DIRECTED BY - Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler

During the second half of the 20th century, William Kunstler was one of the most admired attorneys in America--and one of the most hated. Kunstler was a man who thrived on controversial cases; in the 1960s, he specialized in defending clients who ran afoul of the law on civil rights and free speech issues, and he spoke on behalf of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Lenny Bruce, members of the Black Panther Party, Native American activists, and prisoners' rights groups. Kunstler found himself in the national media spotlight in 1969 when he defended "the Chicago Eight," activists who were accused of organizing riots during the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention; his flamboyant style in the courtroom fascinated the press, and some believe he soon became as interested in getting his name in the papers and his face on television as he was in the law. In his later years, Kunstler developed a reputation as a man who would defend clients whom no one else would touch, including drug dealers, accused rapists, organized-crime figures, and suspected terrorists, though he remained a passionate advocate of the American legal system. Kunstler's daughters, Emily and Sarah, began asking their famous dad questions about his career and his ideals as children armed with a home movie camera, and they've used some of that footage--along with vintage newsreels and interviews with Kunstler's friends, foes, and clients--as the basis for the film WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE, a biographical portrait of the man and his legacy.

GENRES - documentary

Film Info

RUNTIME - 86 minutes

RATING - Not Rated

YEAR - 2010

FORMAT - DVD Region 1

COUNTRY - United States

LANGUAGE - English

ATTRIBUTES - Widescreen


DVD Features:

Region [unknown]

Note: Audio files: "Chicago 8" Courtroom, William Kunstler Inside Wounded Knee, Kunstler's speech at UCSB, Leonard Weinglass on Kunstler's Convictions

Video footage: William Kunstler on the Attica Massacre, Attica Siege Footage, Kunstler's speech a the SUNY Buffalo School of Architecture Commencement, William Kunstler at Caroline's Comedy Club

Kunstler Family Home Movies



"A refresher course on the history of American left-wing politics in the 1960s and '70s as well as an affectionate personal biography of Kunstler..."

- Stephen Holden, New York Times

"Emily and Sarah Kunstler's decision to be the voices for their documentary WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE makes sense, because the dramatic arc of the film has partly to do with how they reconciled their father's legacy."

- Noel Murray, A.V. Club



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