Thursday, 15 March 2018 12:28

Consider A World Saved by Rock and Roll -Presentation at Skidmore Wednesday

SARATOGA SPRINGS – “Free To Rock,” a documentary film directed by four-time Emmy-winning filmmaker Jim Brown and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, will be screened 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 at Skidmore College. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with executive producers Nick Binkley and Doug Yeager.

“I believe music is one of the most powerful change agents the world has ever known. It opens hearts and minds and plants dreams and imaginations,” says Binkley, who points out, among other things, a popular underground heavy metal scene in places like Cairo and Tehran, Islamabad, Damascus and Baghdad.

Ten years in the making, “Free To Rock” explores how American rock and roll contributed to the end of the Cold War.

What prompted the film? “The realization that the ‘soft power’ of American music and culture had a profound effect on the kids behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War,” Binkley explains. “I equate soft power and music and culture with freedom of speech. And freedom of speech is the lifeblood of truth.

“Hard power is military, it’s bombs in the air, it’s bodies in graves and it is destruction. Sometimes we need to use hard power in the military to thwart an imminent danger. Soft power opens hearts and minds, plants dreams and imaginations and is really the extension of the American set of values. That to me is what I hope people come away with,” Binkley says.

Perhaps most unusually, is Binkley’s background, which is in international affairs and banking. He’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations who is just as easily capable of discussing The Plastic People of the Universe – a rock band born of the musical influence of the Velvet Underground, who inspired rebellion to helped transform the Communist rule of the Czechoslovakian landscape.

“I was a musician before I was a venture capitalist,” he says, with a laugh. “I played music in high school and college and abroad in the 1960s and I’ve been writing songs all my life.”

“Free To Rock” features presidents, diplomats, spies and rock stars from the West and the Soviet Union who reveal how rock and roll was a contributing factor in ending the Cold War. The film has been screened – along with an accompanying Q&A session – across the country as well as abroad.

“A lot of college kids were not aware that American music and western Pop Culture was prohibited by the central authorities in the former Soviet Union – that electric guitars were not allowed to be imported and that rock music was considered propaganda from an alien ideology,” Binkley says.

“The question we get often is whether rock and roll music is as relevant today as it was 25, 30, 40 years ago. What’s the answer? Come to the Q & A and you’ll find out.”

The screening and Q&A will take place at Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall, on the campus of Skidmore College and is open to the community.

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