William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe

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William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
Directed byEmily Kunstler
Sarah Kunstler
Produced byEmily Kunstler
Sarah Kunstler
Jesse Moss
Susi Korda
Vanessa Hope
Written bySarah Kunstler
Music byShahzad Ismaily
CinematographyBrett Wiley
Martina Radwan
Edited byEmily Kunstler
Distributed byArthouse Films
Release date
  • 2009 (2009)
CountryUnited States

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe is a documentary film about the late American civil rights attorney William Kunstler directed by daughters Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler that premiered at the 25th Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.[1]

William Kunstler was a famous 20th-century lawyer whose clients included Martin Luther King Jr., the Chicago Seven, Larry Davis, Malcolm X,[1] Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, Abbie Hoffman, H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Filiberto Ojeda Ríos and Leonard Peltier. The New York Times called him "the most hated and most loved lawyer in America". Kunstler served as the negotiator for inmates at the prison uprising at Attica State Prison in New York in 1971.[2]

This film is a co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and was broadcast on the PBS television series P.O.V. in June 2010. The film was an official selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It also received a 2008 grant from the Foundation for Jewish Culture's Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film. Arthouse Films released the film theatrically in North America in 2009.


The film has generally received favorable reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 79% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 28 reviews.[3]

Stephen Holden of the New York Times described the film as 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."[4]

In 2009, the film was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.[5]

In 2010, the film was among 15 films shortlisted for an Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature for the 83rd Academy Awards.[6]


  1. ^ a b "2009 Sundance Film Festival announces films in competition. Festival celebrates 25 years of independent filmmaking and cinematic storytelling". Sundance Institute. 2008-12-03. Archived from the original on 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  2. ^ "Check It Out: William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe". RCP Publications. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2009-12-09.
  3. ^ "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  4. ^ [1] William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, review by Stephen Holden in the New York Times, November 13, 2009
  5. ^ "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (2009) - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  6. ^ http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2010/20101118.html


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