By Oz Online | Published on September 25, 2020

Film festival sensation “WBCN and The American Revolution” is now available in the Merrimack Valley for home screening

Boston’s WBCN radio went underground in 1968, giving people a voice during a time of profound social, political and cultural change. As a WBCN newscaster then, Bill Lichtenstein helped give power to the people. Now, as an award-winning filmmaker, he is offering home screenings of his documentary, “WBCN and The American Revolution,” to help pay for nonprofit local news reporting.

“A year ago, ‘WBCN and The American Revolution’ launched an exhilarating tour of film festivals and screenings across the United States, many of which benefited community radio stations. Audiences were uplifted and empowered by the story of how a rock radio station and a passionate community of listeners mobilized to change their world for the better,” says Lichtenstein. “Now, in this unprecedented time, as we are all facing shared danger but must do so apart from one another, the spirit of community is stronger than ever. I’m thrilled that we’re able to share the inspiring message of the film in this way.”

“Additionally,” adds Lichtenstein, “as the economic effects of the COVID-19 shutdown threaten so many of our most valued businesses and cultural institutions. I’m pleased that tickets sales will support WHAV.” The documentary may be rented for $10 three days here. All film rentals include an invitation to join a free WHAV panel discussion, “Power to the People—Then and Now,” Oct. 1, at 7 p.m., with Lichtenstein, radio historian Donna L. Halper and media critic Dan Kennedy.

A high-energy feature-length documentary, “WBCN and The American Revolution” follows a compelling cast of characters as their lives connect and intersect during the rise of the legendary radio station that became both a player in, and a platform for, the explosive rock ‘n’ roll counterculture, passionate anti-war movement and burgeoning civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements.

The dramatic and compelling stories in WBCN and The American Revolution are interwoven with the original sights and sounds of the critical events of the late 1960s and early 1970s, thanks to more than 100,000 audio and visual items, many of which were donated to the project by members of the WBCN community and the station’s many listeners and fans. The material includes never before exhibited film shot by Andy Warhol and cinema vérité pioneer Ricky Leacock, images from notable photographers including the late Peter Simon, brother of singer Carly Simon, and Jeff Albertson, as well as aircheck audio from memorable on-air, in-studio moments.

The film includes fresh first-person accounts from the station’s staff, as well as both newly filmed and archival material featuring leading political, social, cultural and musical figures of the day, including Noam Chomsky, Jane Fonda, David Bowie, Jerry Garcia, Abbie Hoffman, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, in his first radio interview, and Patti Smith, performing with her band in her first live radio broadcast.

Lichtenstein began working at the station as a volunteer on the WBCN Listener Line at age 14 in 1970, and later as a newscaster and announcer with his own program. His last film, “West 47th Street,” won the Special Jury Award for Documentary Film at the 2001 Atlanta Film Festival; Audience Award for Best Long Form Documentary at the 2002 DC Independent Film Festival; and Honorable Mention at the 2002 Woodstock Film Festival. It aired on PBS’s P.O.V. and was called “must see” by Newsweek and “remarkable” by the Washington Post.

A portion of all proceeds from this non-profit production will benefit a scholarship in the name of Fred Taylor at the Berklee College of Music and a scholarship for documentary film students in the name of Danny Schechter at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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