Michael Kennedy, Late Civil Rights Lawyer And Excessive Instances Chairman, Remembered At Tribeca Movie Pageant Documentary Premiere
The short documentary “Radical Love” explores the late Michael J. Kennedy’s legal work as a criminal defense attorney, his civil rights cases and the political activism of a legal team of married couples who represented – and sometimes worked with – progressive movements from the Vietnam War to the legalization of cannabis .
Kennedy died in 2016.
“I believe the film about Michael, his successful legal career and our commitment will inspire young people to get involved and resist when injustice is evident. The film started as an anti-war message and has also worked its way into an anti-racist message, “said Kennedy’s wife Eleanora Benzinga at the screening of the film in New York City on Friday.
“During his nearly 50 years as legal advisor and chairman of the High Times, Michael was adamant for the release of nonviolent cannabis prisoners and the racist war on drugs,” she said.
Roger Waters on Kennedy
One of the supporters of the project, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd said he was moved by the documentary about his old friend.
“It’s an important look at Michael’s courage and amazing work,” Waters said in an interview with Benzinga and Kennedy at the Tribeca screening in New York’s Hudson Yards.
“It’s a breathtaking and deeply inspiring film that reminds us that the fight is on.”
In addition to serving as legal advisor and chairman of High Times magazine for over four decades, Kennedy’s famous legal career included clients such as John Gotti Sr. Huey Newton; Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers of Weather Underground; Rennie Davis; Cesar Chavez; Timothy Leary; Jean-Harris; Native American protesters at Wounded Knee; Sicilian Mafia Don Gaetano Badalamenti from the New York Pizza Connection case; and five IRA members acquitted of gun possession, to name a few.
“Radical Love” was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival by The New Yorker, who holds exclusive streaming rights for two years.
Directed by William Kirkley, best known for the documentary “Orange Sunshine”, and produced by Caroline Waterlow, best known for her Oscar-winning documentary OJ Made in America.
Kirkley’s happy break
When he was finishing his docudrama about the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Timothy Leary in late 2015, Kirkley sought a brief interview with Kennedy to discuss his role as the Brotherhood’s advocate.
Kirkley got lucky and spent several hours with Kennedy in what turned out to be the attorney’s final public interview. Kennedy died shortly afterwards, at the age of 78, of pneumonia that he developed while undergoing cancer treatment.
“Radical Love” will soon be available for streaming as part of the New Yorker’s documentary program.
Photo by Maureen Meehan.