Directed by Daniel O'Connor, Neil Ortenberg • Documentary • With Barney Rosset, Amiri Baraka, Lawrence Ferlinghetti • 2007 • 97 minutes
OBSCENE is the definitive film biography of Barney Rosset, the influential publisher of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review. He acquired the then fledgling Grove Press in 1951 and soon embarked on a tumultuous career of publishing and political engagement that continues to inspire today's defenders of free expression. Not only was he the first American publisher of acclaimed authors Samuel Beckett, Kenzaburo Oe, Tom Stoppard, Che Guevara, and Malcolm X, but he also battled the government in the highest courts to overrule the obscenity ban on groundbreaking works of fiction such as Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer and Naked Lunch.
The same unyielding and reckless energy Rosset used to publish and distribute controversial works, also brought him perilously close to destruction. He endured lawsuits, death-threats, grenade attacks, government surveillance, and the occupation of his premises by enraged feminists. Ultimately he altered the course of history. Features music by Bob Dylan, The Doors, Warren Zevon, and Patti Smith.