Release date:September 15, 2006
(NY, LA; wider release: September 29)
Directors:David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
MPAA Rating:PG-13 (for some strong language, violent images and drug references)
Screenwriters:David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
Starring:John Lennon, Yoko Ono
An increasingly unpopular war and a restive public... A presidential administration engaged in secret surveillance and wiretapping... A world-famous musician who speaks out in protest... and comes under fire Before Iraq, before the Bush Administration, before the Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, and Pearl Jam... there was John Lennon, the celebrated musical artist who used his fame and his fortune to protest the Vietnam War and advocate for world peace. In the new Lionsgate documentary, "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld trace Lennon's metamorphosis from lovable "Moptop" to anti-war activist to inspirational icon as they reveal the true story of how and why the U.S. government tried to silence him. Primarily focusing on the decade from 1966-1976, "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" places Lennon's activism - and the socio-political upheaval it represented - in the context of the times. It was one of the most fractious periods of American history, dominated by the Vietnam War; the rise of antiwar, civil rights, New Left and other political movements challenging the status quo; the Nixon presidency; revelations of government deception, surveillance and harassment; and Watergate. The film features a large and diverse array of the era's notable figures, men and women who bear immediate and authoritative witness to specific events as well as to the prevailing climate. Among them: African-American political activists Angela Davis and Bobby Seale; journalists Carl Bernstein and Walter Cronkite; Nixon Administration officials G. Gordon Liddy and John Dean; Vietnam veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic; the eminent American historian/novelist Gore Vidal; former New York Governor Mario Cuomo; and three-term Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern. But it is John Lennon himself who is the documentary's preeminent voice and galvanizing central presence. With Lennon's own music providing subtly incisive narration, the film captures a public and private Lennon that many viewers may not know: a principled, funny, and extraordinarily charismatic young man who refused to be silent in the face of injustice. Yoko Ono, Lennon's wife, creative collaborator and partner in their campaign for peace, has given the filmmakers unprecedented access to the Lennon-Ono archives, enabling them to draw upon never-before seen or heard audiovisual materials in telling their story. And in a series of in-depth interviews, Ono shares her personal memories, evoking as no one else can the realities of the couple's daily lives; their hopes and happiness; and their long ordeal at the hands of the U.S. government. Scrupulously researched and vividly illustrated, "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" illuminates a little-known chapter of modern history, when a president and his administration used the machinery of government to wage a covert war against the world's most popular musician. Exploring an era roiled by many of the same issues confronting us today, "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" delivers a tale that speaks powerfully to our own unsettled times.