Free To Rock, a star-studded feature length documentary, tells the powerful story of how western rock music helped end the cold war.
The screening of this film will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ambassador Cynthia Schneider and featuring the film’s director, four time Emmy winner, Jim Brown.
Free event! Facebook RSVP link.
FREE TO ROCK was produced in collaboration with the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the independent label PSB Records and the Stas Namin Center of Moscow. FREE TO ROCK received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Grammy Museum Foundation, Stas Namin Centre of Moscow, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and PSB Records are sponsoring the premiere screening event, which is hosted by the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Georgetown University, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and George Washington University’s Elliott School of Foreign Affairs.
Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, it features interviews with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev, Billy Joel, and the Beach Boys. Other rock legends appearing in the film are Elvis Presley, Elton John, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bruce Springsteen, Scorpions, Metallica and the Iron Curtain rock legends they inspired. FREE TO ROCK is guided by a “blue ribbon panel of scholars, experts and humanities advisors from across the U.S. and former nationals from behind the Iron Curtain.
The film is also the story of “soft power” and the power of art and music to affect social change – in this case, the collapse of the Soviet Union. As expressed by Vladimir Putin when he met Paul McCartney in 2002, rock music from the West was considered “propaganda from an alien ideology.” Prohibited by the Soviet and Eastern Bloc authorities as propaganda, the “soft power” of western rock music infected the youth behind the Iron Curtain, spreading like a virus.
This forbidden music was distributed and sold as “bone records” (etched on x-ray paper for 20 or fewer plays) and cassettes by Black market entrepreneurs and fledgling pop-culture capitalists. In the eyes of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, western rock music combined the twin evils of spreading the English language - undermining a Russification initiative in the 15 Republics of the USSR extending from Kazakhstan to the Baltics - and encouraging illicit free enterprise.