The 1968 Democratic National Convention was an iconic event in American history. Young Vietnam War protestors clashed with Chicago police while millions witnessed their battles on live television. Eight protestors were tried for conspiracy in a circus-like atmosphere.
A new film about the event, associate produced by Christopher Keene, JD’96, opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Using archival footage, trial transcripts and animation, Chicago 10 brings the incident to life for a new generation of moviegoers.
Academy Award-winning director Brett Morgen dubbed the film Chicago 10 to include Bobby Seale, attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, and the Chicago Seven defendants: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines and Lee Weiner.
As a law student, Keene says, he gained tremendous respect for constitutional law after taking a course from James Blumstein, University Professor of Constitutional Law and Health Law and Policy.”It opened my eyes to how lucky we are to live in this country. I’m a huge believer in the right to free speech and the right to protest.”
Keene’s legal training has proven useful in film production, which involves negotiating agreements, making contracts, and gaining rights to intangible property.While working on Chicago 10, “I tried to find every photo and frame of footage related to this subject and negotiated for the right to include all of it in the film,” he says.
Keene’s first foray into show business came during his second year at Vanderbilt when he interned with Creative Artists Agency’s music division in Nashville. “It showed me how much fun it would be to work in that world.”
After stints with a Los Angeles law firm and the Endeavor talent agency, Keene was hired by Morgen to be associate producer for The Kid Stays in the Picture. A biopic about the rise, fall and rise again of legendary Hollywood movie producer Robert Evans, the film garnered numerous critical accolades, including three Best Documentary awards and recognition as one of the 10 best films of 2002.
As head of the Archer Norris law firm’s entertainment practice, Keene has leveraged his film contacts to build a client list of actors, writers, directors, producers, publishers and media financiers.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help people I admire create great work,” he says. “It’s a wonderful way to spend a career.”
Chicago 10 is scheduled for release in theaters in February 2008 to coincide with the event’s 40th anniversary.
© 2014 Vanderbilt University
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