SOURCE: Eagle Rock Entertainment

September 27, 2005 10:25 ET

For the First Time on DVD: "Festival!" the Newport Folk Festival Film (1963 - 1966) Captures Dylan, Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and Legendary Folk, Blues and Country Artists Participating in the

Birth of 60s Counterculture

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 27, 2005 -- Eagle Rock Entertainment, the leading independent source for high-quality music audio/visual programming, this fall will release "Festival!," the trailblazing documentary film released theatrically in 1967 that brings together four years of highlights from the Newport Folk Festival, the pioneering American music festival throughout the 1960s. Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Murray Lerner, "Festival!" notably captures Bob Dylan's legendary first electric performance. Segments from "Festival!" are prominently featured in the recently released Dylan documentary, "No Direction Home," directed by Martin Scorsese.

Along with Dylan's performance of "Maggie's Farm" backed by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and his rehearsal of "Like a Rolling Stone," the film also boasts a constellation of American music stars like Johnny Cash, Joan Baez and Howlin' Wolf, plus an array of seminal folk and blues artists like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

On its original theatrical release, "Festival!" was nominated for an Academy Award and honored at every prestigious film festival of the day. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "It is a masterpiece," while The Hollywood Reporter called it, "one of the best documentary films in years and one of the best American films of this year." The Christian Science Monitor praised its "sharp-edged honesty which induces one to wish it would go on forever." "Festival!" set the bar high, and as the first of the youth counterculture festival films, had considerable influence on every music documentary that would follow -- "Gimme Shelter," "Woodstock," etc.

As well as presenting the 60s musical leading lights, "Festival!" documents the initial creation of America's idealistic counterculture. Adherents of the civil rights movement, student activism, and anti-materialism had gathered not simply to relax and celebrate American folkways, but to create a new form of self-expression out of the roots of folk tradition.

By 1967, this youth movement would explode, fomenting the cultural revolution that ended a war and remade society in profound ways.

Throughout, there is amazing music. The big stars of 60s folk music are represented in full: Peter, Paul and Mary sing their signature versions of "If I Had A Hammer," "The Times They Are A Changin'," and "Blowin' in The Wind," and Pete Seeger, Donovan, Judy Collins and Joan Baez each deliver impassioned performances. The film includes aforementioned blues legends like Howlin' Wolf, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, as well as the Chicago big band blues revivalists the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

The film also includes music that spans the width and breadth of the American folk vernacular. Well-known idioms like Appalachian mountain music and gospel share time with more obscure styles like "drum and fife" music from Mississippi, "Sacred Harp" shape-note choirs and vocal groups from the Georgia Sea Isles.

Lerner is a multifaceted filmmaker who has been an innovator in every area in which he has worked. He won an Academy Award for "From Mao To Mozart: Isaac Stern In China," one of the first documentaries to present the new post-cultural revolution society in China. He also created the first 3-D film for EPCOT, "Magic Journeys," still considered the best 3-D film ever made.

Lerner has also created a number of other prestigious music films. After Festival, he would go on to film 1970's troubled Isle of Wight Festival which would be released in 1995 as "Message to Love: the Isle of Wight Festival," followed by individual releases of full performances at that festival including "The Who: Live At The Isle Of Wight" (Eagle Rock 2004), "Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight" (2002); "Jethro Tull: Nothing is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight" (Eagle Rock 2005) and the Banff World Television Festival Rockie Award-winning "Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue."

Eagle Rock is proud to be associated with the first DVD release of this classic film.

Eagle Rock Entertainment is one of the leading independent sources for music audio and audio/visual programming, which it releases worldwide on DVD, CD and other formats, as well as through channels such as television and VOD. Eagle Rock's mission is to bring music fans high quality music audio and audio/ visual content from the broadest range of artists, with superior production, sound and high definition visuals, as well as other historically significant releases. Eagle Vision's extensive catalog covers every genre of music, and includes the "Classic Albums" documentary series, which tells the stories behind some of the greatest albums in rock history, and "Live at Montreux," which features performances from top artists at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival.

The company's record imprints include frontline artist label Eagle Records, and the hard rock/ heavy metal label Spitfire Records. Eagle Media releases a variety of comedy, television and fact-based programming. Eagle Vision, Eagle Records, Eagle Media, Eagle Eye Media and Spitfire are imprints of Eagle Rock Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S., which is a part of Eagle Rock Entertainment, Ltd. The company's North American headquarters are in New York City. Its corporate headquarters are in London, with offices in Toronto, Paris and Hamburg.

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    Howard Wuelfing
    Howlin' Wuelf Media
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    Cathy Halgas Nevins
    Eagle Rock Entertainment
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