The Weather Underground


Film by Sam Green and Bill Siegel Premieres Nationally on Independent Lens, ITVS's Acclaimed Series on PBS. A production of The Free History Project, in association with KQED Public Television/San Francisco and ITVS, Tuesday, April 27, at 10pm (check local listings)

For ITVS, Contact:
Cara White 843/881-1480
Randall Cole 415/356-8383 x254 

For KQED, Contact:
Anne Wintroub 415/553-2145 

Program companion website, visit http// 

"You don't need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.” — Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues 

"A great story! The young, violent, and glamorous anti-establishment militants of the 1960s. Terrifically smart!” — Elvis Mitchell, THE NEW YORK TIMES 

"THREE AND A HALF STARS...chronicles those early days of idealism, and their transition into a period when American society seemed for an instant on the point of revolution.” — Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 

"A fascinating window into American political history... one of the most thought-provoking documentaries of recent times.” --Desson Howe, THE WASHINGTON POST 

"A terrific movie, energetic and articulate. It's the don't-miss documentary of the season.” — David Sterritt, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

(San Francisco, CA)— "Hello, I'm going to read a declaration of a state of war. . . within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of American injustice.” Thirty years ago, with those words spoken by Bernardine Dohrn, a group of young American radicals announced their intention to overthrow the U.S. government. In THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, former Underground members, including Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, David Gilbert and Brian Flanagan, speak publicly about the idealistic passion that drove them to "bring the war home” and the trajectory that placed them on the FBI's most wanted list. 

THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, nominated for an Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, will air nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Don Cheadle, on Tuesday, April 27, 2004, at 10pm (check local listings). The nomination marks the third year in a row for a film from the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Last year (2003), Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco's DAUGHTER FROM DANANG was nominated, preceded the previous year (2002) by the film PROMISES, from filmmakers B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro and Carlos Bolado. According to Sam Green, director, producer and editor, THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND was made possible through the support of several Bay Area institutions such as the Film Arts Foundation (FAF), the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), The Orphange, KQED and ITVS, with several local foundations and individuals also making financial contributions. With the filmmakers also based in San Francisco, the film can certainly be claimed as a product of the robust Bay Area arts community. 

Fueled by outrage over racism and the Vietnam War, the Weather Underground waged a low-level war against the U.S. government through much of the 1970s — bombing targets across the country that they considered emblematic of the real violence that the U.S. was wreaking throughout the world. Ultimately, the group's carefully organized clandestine network managed to successfully evade one of the largest manhunts in FBI history, yet the group's members would reemerge to life in a country that was dramatically different than the one they had hoped their efforts would inspire. 

Extensive archival material, including photographs, film footage and FBI documents are interwoven with contemporary interviews to trace the group's rise and fall, from its pitched battles with police on Chicago's streets, to its bombing of the U.S. Capitol, to its successful endeavor breaking acid-guru Timothy Leary out of prison. The film explores the Weathermen in the context of other social movements of the time and features interviews with former members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Panthers. It also examines the U.S. government's suppression of dissent in the 1960s and 1970s. Looking back at their years underground, the former members paint a compelling portrait of troubled times, revolutionary times, and the forces that drove their resistance. 

THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, which has also been selected to be included in the Whitney Museum Biennial exhibit, is a production of The Free History Project, in association with KQED Public Television/San Francisco and ITVS with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by The Ettinger Foundation, Turbulent Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Robeson Fund, Film Arts Foundation, The Harburg Foundation, and many other individual donors. 

The program's interactive companion website features detailed information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, cast and crew bios, as well as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a "talkback” section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more. 

INTERVIEWEES (in order of appearance) 
Bernardine Dohrn was part of the leadership of the Weather Underground and was considered the figurehead of the organization. She spent the 1970s living underground and was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Today, Dohrn is an associate professor and director at Northwestern University's Children and Justice Center. 

Mark Rudd was famous for his role in the 1968 Columbia protests. As part of the Weather Underground's leadership, he lived underground for several years during the 1970s. He now teaches at a junior college in New Mexico. 

Brian Flanagan was a member of the Weather Underground. He is currently a bar-owner in New York City. 

David Gilbert was a member of the Weather Underground. When the organization dismantled, he joined the Black Liberation Army and plunged deeper into revolutionary violence. Gilbert is currently serving a life sentence at Attica Correctional Facility for his role in a holdup gone awry. 

Bill Ayers was a central figure in the Weather Underground. He lived underground for 10 years, which he writes about in his memoir Fugitive Days. Ayers, now married to Dohrn, is currently a school reform activist and a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Naomi Jaffe was a member of the Weather Underground. She currently lives in Albany, New York, and is executive director of a foundation that supports women's activism. 

Todd Gitlin was president of Students for a Democratic Society in 1963. He has written extensively on the Weather Underground and the 1960s counterculture. He is a professor of culture, journalism and sociology at New York University. 

Laura Whitehorn was a member of the Weather Underground. She currently lives in New York City and is active in a wide range of progressive causes. 

Don Strickland is a former FBI agent. As an agent, he was a member of the "Weatherman Squad,” an FBI bureau that investigated the Weather Underground. 

Kathleen Cleaver is best known as the former communications secretary of the Black Panther Party. She is a writer and senior lecturer at Emory University Law School. 

 Director, Producer and Editor:Sam Green Co-director and Producer:Bill Siegel Executive Producer:Christian Ettinger Executive Producer:Mary Harron Executive Producer for KQED:Sue Ellen McCann Executive Producer for ITVS:Sally Jo Fifer Producer:Carrie Lozano Producer:Marc Smolowitz Editor: Dawn Logsdon Director of Photography:Andrew Black Director of Photography:Federico Salsano On-line Editor:Herbert Bennett Sound Mix:David Westby Assistant Editor:Angela Reginato Voice-over:Lili Taylor Voice-over:Pamela Z Original Music: Dave Cerf Original Music: Amy Domingues 

About the Filmmakers 
Sam Green (Director, Producer, Editor) received his Master's Degree in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied documentary film with acclaimed filmmaker Marlon Riggs. His documentary The Rainbow Man/John 3:16 premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and screened at festivals worldwide, winning the Grand Prize at the USA Film Festival in Dallas and Best Documentary awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the New York and Chicago Underground Film Festivals. His most recent documentary Pie Fight ‘69 premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, where it won an honorable mention in the shorts category. Pie Fight ‘69 won first prize at the Black Maria Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2000 Chicago Underground Film Festival. Green currently lives in San Francisco and is an artist-in-residence at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito. 

Bill Siegel (Co-director and Producer) is a Chicago-based educator and documentary filmmaker. He has worked on a number of documentary films, including Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story, Hoop Dreams and One Love, an upcoming documentary by Leon Gast (When We Were Kings). He grew up in Minneapolis, cut his teeth on rock and roll, and is currently the director of school programs for the Great Books Foundation, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to literacy and lifelong learning. 

Carrie Lozano (Producer) is a Bay Area writer and editor. She studied film at the University of California at Berkeley and has a background in experimental and documentary film. 

Andrew Black (Director of Photography) is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer. He has been working on documentary, short and feature films for more than 14 years, and his work has been widely distributed theatrically and on television worldwide. Black's credits include The PLO and Drylongso: Pica's Story. 

About Independent Lens 
Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

About ITVS 
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 

About KQED 
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento);, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources. 

About PBS 
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org web site on the internet.


Posted on January 27, 2004