MC5: A True Testimonial

MC5: A True Testimonial, also written as MC5 * A True Testimonial, is a 2002 feature-length documentary film about the MC5, a Detroit-based rock band of the 1960s and early 1970s. The film was produced by Laurel Legler and directed by David C. Thomas; the couple spent more than seven years working on the project.[1]

MC5: A True Testimonial
The characters MC5 in red, white and blue; below them, the faces of five men
Promotional poster
Directed byDavid C. Thomas
Produced byLaurel Legler
Release date
Running time
119 minutes

Although the MC5 are considered very influential today, they were relatively obscure in their time.[1] To make the film, Thomas collected photographs and film clips of varying quality, including U.S. government surveillance footage of the MC5's performance at the protests that took place outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.[2] He interviewed the surviving members of the band and people closely associated with it.[2] In the editing room, Thomas matched the band's recordings to the silent footage he had collected.[3]

MC5: A True Testimonial made its premiere on August 22, 2002, at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.[2] Three weeks later it made its international premiere on September 11 at the Toronto International Film Festival.[4] In November of that year, the film was awarded an "Honorable Mention" as a debut feature at the Raindance Film Festival.[5]

During 2003 and early 2004, the film was shown at film festivals around the world.[6] Critical reception was overwhelmingly positive.[7][8] The New York Times described the film as "riveting";[9] The Boston Globe said it was "everything a rockumentary should be and usually isn't";[10] and The Washington Post called it "one of the best movies of the summer".[8] Wayne Kramer, the MC5's guitarist, said it was a "wonderful film"[11] and John Sinclair, the band's one-time manager, said Thomas had done "a fine job".[6] In 2007, Time Out London ranked it #48 on a list of the "50 Greatest Music Films Ever".[12]

In April 2004, Kramer sued Legler and Thomas. In his suit, Kramer alleged that Legler and Thomas had promised he would be the film's music producer, an assertion the film-makers denied.[13] With the lawsuit, distribution of MC5: A True Testimonial ended and plans for a DVD release in May were canceled.[3] In March 2007, the court ruled in favor of Legler and Thomas,[14] and the Court of Appeals upheld the decision on appeal.[15] Nevertheless, MC5: A True Testimonial has not been released on DVD, although in 2011 the film-makers began a fund-raising campaign to pay for rights to the band's music.[16]


  1. ^ a b Saller, René Spencer (June 12, 2002). "Paying the Price". Riverfront Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Perlich, Tim (September 5–12, 2002). "MC5 on Film". NOW. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Margasak, Peter (April 29, 2004). "The MC5 Movie You May Never See". Chicago Reader. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Saller, René Spencer (August 21, 2002). "Whole Lot of Love". Riverfront Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (November 8, 2002). "Raindance Jury Honors 'Getting My Brother Laid,' 'Mr. In-Between'". indieWire. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Sinclair, John (June 9, 2004). "Reprise". Metro Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  7. ^ Bowe, Brian J. (June 7, 2006). "Returning to the Scene of the Crime". Metro Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Hornaday, Ann (July 25, 2004). "For Classic Rock Films, A Sound Defeat". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (April 23, 2004). "The Bad Boys Who Burned Out but Never Faded Away". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  10. ^ Anderman, Joan (March 12, 2004). "'Testimonial' is True to MC5". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  11. ^ Pantsios, Anastasia (June 9, 2004). "Sonic Revolution: The MC5 Reunites to Kick Out the Jams Once More". Cleveland Free Times. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  12. ^ Watts, Peter (October 4, 2007). "50 Greatest Music Films Ever". Time Out London. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Perlich, Tim (June 3–9, 2004). "DKT/MC5: Wherever the Detroit Rock Rebels Go, Trouble Still Follows". NOW. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  14. ^ Margasak, Peter (April 9, 2007). "MC5 Documentary Clears Hurdle". Chicago Reader. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  15. ^ Holdship, Bill (December 3, 2008). "MC5 Flick Cleared for Release?". Metro Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  16. ^ McCollum, Brian (July 1, 2011). "MC5 Doc May Be Released If Backers Can Raise $25,000". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 2, 2011.

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