My friend Sarah Cullen is a producer at Jim Brown productions. She has been working for him for several years. The production company has done a ton of music documentaries. One of their recent films, Isn’t This a Time, is now showing at Quad Cinema in New York City. Sarah is an co-produceer for the film.
This movie is terrific, and you should see it.
The film delivers a strong message that people have the power to change the world. The people in this movie have been on the forefront of any number of just causes, and they have paid a personal price for their stances.
The 2003 tribute concert for Harold Leventhal provided the backdrop of the film. He is a concert producer who helped deliver the message of many people in this movie. One of the most prominent acts he produced was the Weavers. After being blacklisted in the 1950s, the Weavers were not able to perform and the group broke up. We don’t really have a “blacklist” today. In the 1950s, it meant that the Weavers were not able to perform or be played on the radio. To allow the Weavers to be heard meant risking being hauled in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)–not to mention being blacklisted yourself. There was no Internet, and realistically, being blacklisted meant you would never be heard.
Harold Leventhal took a stand when no one else would. He brought the Weavers back together for a concert at Carnegie Hall. His influence did not stop there. He managed any number of folk musicians and produced hundreds of concerts. And as Woody Guthrie became sick, he became a second father to Arlo Guthrie, later becoming Arlo’s manager.
Ronnie Gilbert is one of the Weavers. In the movie, she described the current political climate being worse than that of the 1950s. I can hardly disagree, because she was there and I was not. And yet, I cannot imagine how much worse the world would have been if she; the rest of the Weavers; Pete Seeger (a founding member of the Weavers); Peter, Paul, and Mary; and the other people in this film had not taken the stands they did. We take the ability to perform civil disobedience in the United States for granted now; it is only because of the people who came before us that our country can accept this kind of behavior.
There was a party before the movie; Ronnie Gilbert was there and sang a couple of songs. Her voice is amazing.
I went with my Mom, who said, “I’ve been in love with Ronnie Gilbert for 50 years!” My mom was thrilled to be able to meet her.
Thank you, Sarah, for a fun night and an amazing film!