FoxHog Productions Launches Campaign to Save a Threatened Documentary Film on Censorship: Barney's Wall

Racism. War. Censorship. Rage. Rebellion. The Sixties are back. Re-join the Underground.

New documentary celebrates Barney Rosset's battles for freedom of the press

A team of indie filmmakers is launching a Kickstarter campaign to save BARNEY’S WALL, a timely feature documentary that probes the lasting cultural impact of BARNEY ROSSET, the legendary Grove Press radical publisher, free-speech warrior and political activist whose fierce mid-century battles against literary censorship, government surveillance, racial bigotry and the Vietnam war blasted open America’s culture and birthed the 60s counter-culture rebellion, paving the way to today’s unfettered artistic expression. In an era that is facing social and political upheavals similar to the 50s and 60s, the film could not be more timely.

Although his legacy is today largely forgotten, Rosset was one of the most influential cultural impresarios of the last half of the 20th century.

“The most important American book publisher of the twentieth century” – Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker

“There was a time when it felt as if Rosset had published half of the books on my shelves, with their Black Cat logo and distinctive blocky title typeface. That's an exaggeration, but not much of one; without Rosset, contemporary literature as we know it would simply not exist” – David L. Ulin, critic, essayist, editor, and novelist

The film makes the case that Rosset’s unflagging battles against inequality and overreaching government powers make him a contemporary model for political and cultural activists who seek to keep the country open and the First Amendment intact.

Perhaps the closest equivalent today of Rosset’s feisty, abrasive, principled and visionary politics is Bernie Sanders. 

An impetuous and fiercely independent outsider, Rosset’s almost mystical belief in the sacredness of the First Amendment fueled his six years of ferocious court battles against mid-century “obscenity” laws. Battling over six years in 60 state courtrooms with a phalanx of First Amendment lawyers, Rosset continued his crusade all the way to the Supreme Court before winning a landmark decision outlawing government censorship.

Freed to publish without restraint, Rosset brought the reading public the “outliers” of the era – previously banned authors such as D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and William Burroughs and the now canonical Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, among myriad others. 

Although born to wealth, Rosset despised inequality and bigotry, and over the course of his life funded radical and avant-garde writers and thinkers who he felt could transform America’s hide-bound culture. His commitment to civil rights drove him to publish Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and Franz Fanon. His 1951 film “Strange Victory,” recently remastered and screened at BAM, equated America’s Jim Crow south with European fascism.

Through vast archival footage and incisive commentary from major cultural figures, Barney’s Wall traces Rosset’s lifetime struggle to allow all Americans to read, hear and see what the Constitution demands.

Rosset enriched the country and at 90, died broke. He left behind a wall of his memories, encapsulated in intricate vignettes embedded into a 15' x 22' wall of his East Village loft. The film uses the vignettes as portals into the formative influences that drove a rebel, war photographer, filmmaker and publisher to an enduring defense of freedom of expression. 

The loft and the wall have been destroyed by real estate developers undertaking the gentrification of the Lower East Side of NYC. The film is the only record of both.

The film Barney’s Wall is meant as both tribute and crusade. Its message is that it takes only one committed visionary to transform a culture and marshal a passionate army of resistance against overreaching government authority.

The filmmakers have completed the documentary, which has been privately screened at major cultural venues in NYC, San Francisco and Paris. They are launching a 30-day Kickstarter — SAVING BARNEY’S WALL — on Dec. 3 to raise funding to cover licensing costs, legal fees, insurance and marketing materials required for the film’s release. A successful 2016 Kickstarter helped fund filming and post-production.

Produced and directed by Sandy Gotham Meehan and Williams Cole, cinematography by David Leitner, edited by Kasia Plazinska.


Sandy Gotham Meehan
Producer, Barney’s Wall
T: 212-734-1249
Kickstarter link:


Twitter: @barneyswall
Facebook: /barneyswall
Instagram: @barneyswall


Source: FoxHog Productions

Categories: Arts and Entertainment

Tags: Barney Rosset, censorship, crowd-sourcing film, Evergreen Review, First Amendment rights, freedom of speech, Grove Press, Kickstarter film