2020-2021 Independent Lens Film Season
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project – Marion Stokes secretly recorded American television 24 hours a day for 30 years, from 1975 until her death in 2012. Long before the era of “fake news,” the Philadelphia-based Communist and radical activist believed that a comprehensive archive of the media would one day be invaluable, protecting the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television.
Indie Lens Pop-Up National Online Video Engagement Experience & Film Screening
Q & A with Matt Wolf
Tuesday, June 23rd
About the Film
Marion Stokes secretly recorded American television 24 hours a day for 30 years, from 1975 until her death in 2012. It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the dawn of the twenty-four hour news cycle. It ended on December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Marion passed away. In between, Marion recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today.
Before “fake news” Marion was fighting to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. The public didn’t know it, but the networks were disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history. Remarkably Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we’ll be able to search them online for free.
This is a mystery in the form of a time capsule. It’s about a radical Communist activist, who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Her work was crazy but it was also genius, and she would pay a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project.
AS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN, SHE WAS OFTEN EXCLUDED FROM ESTABLISHED INSTITUTIONS, SO SHE PURSUED HER REMARKABLE PROJECT PRIVATELY AND ON HER OWN TERMS.
About the Filmmaker
Matt Wolf is an award-winning filmmaker in New York whose feature documentaries include Wild Combination, about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell and Teenage, about early youth culture and the birth of teenagers. His new film Spaceship Earth about the controversial Biosphere 2 experiment is premiering at Sundance 2020. Matt’s short films include I Remember, about the artist and poet Joe Brainard, Time Magazine’s The Face of AIDS about a controversial Benetton advertisement, and Bayard & Me, about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. He is also the director of HBO’s It’s Me, Hilary and is the co-curator of film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.
WSIU VIRTUAL FILM EVENTS
Indie Lens Pop-Up is a WSIU media project that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. The project, which features documentaries from the PBS hit series Independent Lens, draws local residents together to discuss newsworthy topics to family, relationships, and more. These virtual screening events are free and open to the public.