British fashion icon, Vivienne Westwood, hosted the launch of Grand Classics: Films with Style in London, introducing Michael Apted’s controversial documentary Incident at Oglala:
"... I’ll start off by talking about Leonard [Peltier]. Five years ago, this girl called Else, who lives in Belgium... was trying to collect V.I.P. signatures, and she sent me the whole list of V.I.P. signatures, and I only knew about two names on it of all these people. A lot of them were Belgium... I thought, well, I know a lot of people... so I began to lead a more social life because I get invited to a lot of parties... and I started to collect signatures and I got the most brilliant signatures... President Gorbachev signed it straight away. I sent it to Richard Branson’s office, and I got it back in three days signed... People have wanted to sign it and it has been lovely...
...I started to put graphics in some of my collections, made badges, belt buckles, all kinds of things... I dedicated my travelling exhibition to it and my book... I think the slogan, ‘Leonard Peltier is Innocent’ is really good because... It makes people think... I have spent at least 100 hours... to write the text that is the petition. But what I wanted to do was to concentrate on the use of the law for illegal purposes to entrap Leonard... if there is one thing I am absolutely convinced of… you have to campaign or do whatever you can for justice before the law... the incredible thing about this film is the lengths the government went to trap him... And Leonard represents all those prisoners who should not be in jail...
...I’m just one person. And I didn’t think I could do very much. I’ve never written to Leonard, because it’s one thing to collect signatures and it’s another to get him out of jail... I’m very very encouraged about what’s happening... Our whole society is at threat unless we try and do something. I don’t want to take anything for granted, but I do feel encouraged at the kind of snowballing effect that this has started to have..."
Incident at Oglala
On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents were killed on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota during a shootout with the local Indians. Although several men were charged with the murders, Leonard Peltier was the only one to be found guilty. Michael Apted's probing documentary describes the events that occurred on the day of the tragedy and suggests that Peltier has been unjustly imprisoned for the last 30 years.