The Weather Underground

Documentary traces the rise and fall of the Weathermen, a group of several hundred young people who, outraged by the Vietnam war and racism in America, tried to violently overthrow the U.S. government during the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

For Immediate Release 

Nancy Fishman, 415/356-8383 x226; 

"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.”—Bernardine Dohrn

(San Francisco, CA)—Thirty years ago, with those words, a group of young American radicals announced their intention to overthrow the U.S. government. In THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, former Underground members, including Bernardine 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. 

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 ‘70s, 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 modern-day interviews to trace the group's path, 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. 

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 runs a juvenile justice program at Northwestern University. 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 is currently a school reform activist and a professor of education at the University of Chicago at Illinois. 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. CREDITS Director, Producer and EditorSam Green Co-director and ProducerBill Siegel Executive ProducerChristian Ettinger Executive ProducerMary Harron Executive ProducerSue Ellen McCann ProducerCarrie Lozano Producer Marc Smolowitz EditorDawn Logsdon Director of PhotographyAndrew Black Director of PhotographyFederico Salsano On-line EditorHerbert Bennett Sound MixDavid Westby Assistant EditorAngela Reginato Voice-overLili Taylor Voice-overPamela Z Original MusicDave Cerf Original MusicAmy Domingues 

THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND is produced by The Free History Project and is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with KQED/San Francisco. 

Sam Green, director, producer and 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. Mr. 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 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 the vision of 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. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Contact ITVS at or visit 

About KQED 
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most-watched public television station, and Digital Television 9, Northern California's only public television digital signal; KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation;, which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the web; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources. 


Posted on February 4, 2003