Good news for those anxiously awaiting the release of the great MC5 documentary, A True Testimonial (although we don't know how many there are at this point...since the film was mailed to journalists as a review DVD several years ago, right before MC5 member Wayne Kramer and his wife/manager Margaret Saadi filed suit against the filmmakers for breach of contract...which means that the film has now been bootlegged all over the place and most everyone who wants it now owns a DVD in some form...although we know there's at least one person who still wants to see it, since we got an e-mail from him asking about its release several weeks ago...)
At any rate, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Court reaffirmed U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford's earlier ruling absolving fillmmakers David Thomas, Laurel Legler and Future/Now Films of any wrongdoing.
The Court of Appeals court also vacated Judge Guilford's decision not to grant Future/Now their legal fees and sent it back to him for reconsideration. This finally should conclude the Kramer's quest to stop the film...or at least take it over to release themselves. (The unfortunate thing is that the filmmakers -- who began the documentary as a "work of love" -- have been hit badly financially by all this legal wrangling.) But both the estates of Fred "Sonic" Smith and Rob Tyner have reportedly signed on, so the coast seems clear for the film's release once a few seconds of Kramer's song, "Poison," have been removed from the documentary. An insider says if the DVD finally gets released, we should "expect to see new bonus features, including some documentation of this epic five-year legal battle." He adds that any release, though, will probably be limited to the United States due to copyright restrictions imposed by music publishing giant Warner/Chappell.
We say just release the frickin' thing! It's a great piece of art (I saw the West Coast premiere in L.A. several years ago and the audience gave it a standing ovation, in the middle of the film, after one incredible performance by the band -- I'm serious!)and it's always seemed that the band's remaining members shot themselves in the feet by stopping the release. Otherwise, it would probably be all over cable TV right now, much like the Ramones' equally terrific End Of The Century doc (made around the same time as the Five flick), therby enhancing the Detroit band's legacy. There's a fairly comprehensive timeline of the film and the legal mess at Detroit Tango. Check it out here.
Speaking of documentaries, an upcoming film, entitled 7 Mile, will celebrate the history of three late Motown rap legends -- namely, Proof (D12), Jay-Dilla and Blade Icewood (Street Lordz). Filmmaker DJ Butter talks to the friends and family of the fallen rappers and interviews the artists who paved the way for Detroit's rap scene. You can find more info at 7milemovie.com. Check out the trailer below. Between this and the Grande Ballroom documentary on the horizon, Detroit should be very well represented in upcoming cinematic pop culture glory (even if the new Cadillac Records film neglects to mention our own John Lee Hooker...though that's OK 'cause it doesn't mention Bo Diddley, either...).
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