If you're going to make a documentary about obscenity and censorship, you must have the obligatory John Waters interview. The Pink Flamingoesfilmmaker is building quite the side resume for himself appearing in docs like Inside Deep Throat, This Film is Not Yet Rated and now Obscene, which even recognizes the Waters asset by putting him front and center as its first talking head. Despite the need to feature Waters as an appropriate expert on shock, indecency laws and freedom of expression, the guy is also one of the most enjoyable personalities and storytellers that one could put in a non-fiction film. At one point, Waters comes on and supplies the film its greatest line, in which he retrospectively critiques Vilgot Sjöman's 1967 film I Am Curious (Yellow) as nothing more than "a limp dick and some ugly women naked."
The relevance of this comment is that Grove Press, whose founder, Barney Rosset, is the subject of Obscene, distributed the Swedish film. It is also a great assessment of what the obscenity law battles of the 20th century look like to us in the 21st. Rosset continually faced courtrooms and politicians who were offended and/or threatened by things that are embarrassingly tame and bland compared to what we've got nowadays. Rosset was the one who fought to get books like Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, The Autobiography of Malcolm X and others onto American bookshelves and later to get films like I Am Curious (Yellow) into American theaters. Grove wasn't all about contention, though; it also put(s) out less controversial classics like Waiting for Godot, A Confederacy of Dunces and Godard's film Week End.