PG 1 hr 44 mins Documentary

J. Edgar Hoover hated Martin Luther King. He was convinced the civil rights movement was infiltrated by communists. He also disapproved of King’s private life, calling him “a tom-cat with obsessive degenerate sexual urges.” Perhaps most of all, he feared King as a radical, a subversive bent on challenging the cherished system of segregation and the status quo. To ruin King he used every means at his disposal. William Sullivan, Hoover’s right-hand man and head of the notorious COINTELPRO division of the FBI, once said in their pursuit of King, “no holds were barred.” Bugs were planted in King’s hotel rooms, his phones tapped, informants paid. The Bureau enlisted journalists to write hostile stories about King, never alerted him to threats on his life, and when King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the FBI threatened to blackmail him unless he committed suicide. Utilizing a trove of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and unsealed by the National Archives, MLK/FBI tells this astonishing and tragic story for the first time. The film contrasts Hoover and King, two powerful, iconic figures who, despite all of their differences, saw themselves in the same way, as a protector of liberty–a guardian of the American dream. Yet their view of that dream could not have been more opposed, and to examine their strange and tortured relationship is to ask questions as central to our time as it was to theirs. What is “free,” what is “American”? What do we mean when we use those words, and who controls the definitions?