John Lennon Goes to Washington20 Dec, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel
In sticking to a cutting edge documentary mantra underscored by the 2004 theatrical release of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, Lionsgate Feb. 13 (prebook Jan. 17) will street The U.S. vs. John Lennon on DVD for $27.98.
The 2006 doc from filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld, which generated more than $1.1 million at select theatres, analyzes how and why the U.S. government felt the former Beatle and somewhat na?ve anti-war activist presented such a threat to national security that it closely monitored the artist's movements in the early 1970s.
Separately, the FBI Dec. 20 released its final surveillance documents on Lennon to UC Irvine history professor Jon Weiner who had waged a 25-year battle with the government over the release of the material.
In addition to a soundtrack featuring more than 36 songs by Lennon, wife Yoko Ono and The Beatles, the 96-minute disc offers commentary from noted politicians and influential figures of the time such as Carl Bernstein, Noam Chomsky, Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, George McGovern and even Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy.
More than 50 minutes of bonus material includes video vignettes “Becoming John Lennon,” “Power to the People,” “Dissent vs. Disloyalty,” “Then and Now,” “Walter Cronkite Meets The Beatles,” “The ‘Two Virgins' Album Cover,” “Sometime in New York,” “Imagine,” “The One to One Benefit Concert” and “Yoko Ono's Letter to the Parole Board.”
The added material was created following the theatrical release in tandem with the filmmakers, said Tracy Ames, VP of marketing at Lionsgate.
“A lot of people aren't familiar with [Lennon's peace efforts] stepping outside of his music realm,” said Ames. “I don't think [the DVD] could be more relevant than today with the Iraq war.”
Ames said the current political climate underscored by the hesitancy to speak out against the conflict brings a sense of urgency and need for the DVD.
“[Lionsgate] does not have a political agenda or statement to make but because the topics are so relevant they tend to polarize and then they are called controversial,” Ames said. “We consider them powerful and relevant.”