1h20m | Directed by Charlie Siskel | USA | Documentary, history
In 1970, at age 19, William Powell wanted to help build a new society, so he taught the world how to blow up the old one. As the heady days of the late 60’s counterculture and political upheaval turned darker, Powell wrote one of the most infamous books ever published: The Anarchist Cookbook. Part manifesto and part bomb-making manual, it went on to sell over 2 million copies.
Since then, the Cookbook has been associated with decades of homegrown domestic terrorism — violent anti-government attacks, abortion clinic bombings, school shootings.
Now 65, Powell is a man haunted by his own creation, struggling to make sense of the chaos it has wrought. After writing the book, Powell left the US and has lead an itinerant life ever since. He distanced himself from the Cookbook and spent most of his life traversing the globe teaching kids with disabilities…but could he ever do enough to atone for the consequences of his actions?
In American Anarchist, documentarian Charlie Siskel (Finding Vivian Maier) tells a cautionary tale of youthful rebellion and unforeseen consequences — a universal, all-too-human story of a man at the end of his life, wrestling with his past, his identity, and coming to terms with who he really is.
World Premiere – Venice International Film Festival
Official Selection – DOC NYC
…an intriguing and original study, and a great scoop for Charlie Siskel
Peter Bradshaw | The Guardian | Full Review
It’s riveting to watch, but also strange….the on-screen antagonism, the history of The Anarchist Cookbook, and how the internet prevented Powell from escaping his past makes for an incredible film experience
Kaleem Aftab | Vice | Full Review