FREE TO ROCK: How Rock and Roll Helped to End the Cold War

Film Screening

Date and Time

May 3, 2016 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM May 02.


Campbell Recital Hall
471 Lagunita Drive
Stanford, CA 94305



This event is sponsored by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), and the Stanford Music Department.

Movie Screening: 7:30pm-8:35pm

FREE TO ROCK is a feature length documentary film telling the story of how western rock music contributed to ending the Cold War.  Prohibited by the Soviet and Eastern Bloc authorities as propaganda, the “soft power” of western rock music infected the youth behind the Iron Curtain, spreading like a virus.  This forbidden music was distributed and sold as “bone records” (etched on x-ray paper for 20 or fewer plays) and cassettes by Black market entrepreneurs and fledgling pop-culture capitalists.  In the eyes of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, western rock music combined the twin evils of spreading the English language - undermining a Russification initiative in the 15 Republics of the USSR extending from Kazakhstan to the Baltics - and encouraging illicit free enterprise.

The film, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, features interviews with former President, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev (former Premier of the Soviet Union), Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, rock and roll pioneers from the Soviet Union, and is directed and produced by Jim Brown, four time Emmy Award winning director. 

Panel discussion, 8:35-9:30pm

Power of Music and Political Change


Michael McFaul, Former Ambassador to Russia and Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies


Mark Applebaum, Associate Professor of Music, Stanford University

Nick Binkley, Free to Rock, Producer

Jim Brown, Free to Rock, Director

Valery Saifudinov, founder of the first Soviet Rock n' Roll band, the Revengers

Joanna Stingray, first American producer of Soviet Rock n' Roll

Kathryn Stoner, Director of the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies, Stanford University