The Judi Bari movie: An intriguing reward, and too much singing
BY CHRIS SMITH/The Press Democrat
Darryl Cherney is on the road, showing his documentary on the 1990 car-bomb blast that slightly injured him but nearly killed his lover and Earth First! comrade, Judi Bari.
“Who Bombed Judi Bari?” appears to be the first film ever that comes with a reward. Humboldt County resident Cherney’s production company offers $50,000 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and incarceration of the person or persons who placed the bomb.
The question of who is left open by the 93-minute documentary, constructed of interviews and archival footage of Bari, Cherney and the bomb blast in Oakland that came as they organized in preparation for the Redwood Summer mass protests against logging of old-growth trees.
Competing theories of who slipped a bomb underneath the driver’s seat of Bari’s car cast suspicion on the FBI, persons formerly close to Bari and political adversaries.
The FBI, along with Oakland Police Department, initially claimed that Bari and Cherney were transporting the bomb. The pair sued the law-enforcement agencies for false arrest and other violations. In 2002, five years after Bari died of cancer, a federal jury agreed with them and ordered several FBI agents and Oakland officers to pay $4.4 million in damages.
As Cherney now travels the country screening the documentary he made with director Mary Liz Thompson, he’s saying he hopes the reward will at last bring about the arrest and conviction of whomever placed the bomb.
A week-long run of “Who Bombed Judi Bari” in New York City produced mostly favorable reviews. “Variety” praises it as a “heartfelt tribute to the life and work of Bari, who died of breast cancer in 1997.”
For some reviewers, Cherney is a bit too liberal with old film of the protest songs, some caustic and some hysterical, that he and Bari would often sing.
“There are far too many scenes of the duo’s musical performances,” complains the Hollywood Reporter. Neil Genzlinger writes in The New York Times that the documentary “does make you wonder what really happened on May 24, 1990″ but he resents all the clips “of Mr. Cherney singing his tiresome protest songs.”
Now we watch to see if the film and the reward will prompt someone holding the answer to the mystery to do some singing of his or her own.