Recorder: Marion Stokes Project

The strange life of a radical activist-turned-recluse who videotaped everything on TV for 30 years — in the name of truth.

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Series
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
June 15, 2020
Length
90 minutes
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Producer/Director

Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His critically acclaimed and award-winning films have played widely in festivals and have been distributed internationally in theaters and on television. Matt’s first feature documentary Wild Combination is about the avant-garde cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell. His second feature Teenage is about early Show more youth culture and the birth of teenagers. Most recently, Matt premiered Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Matt’s work in television includes the HBO Documentary It’s Me, Hilary about the Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight, executive produced by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner. He was also Executive Producer, Showrunner, and Writer on a National Geographic miniseries I Am Rebel alongside Doug Liman. The series features 1930s crime scene photographer Weegee, the 1970s police brutality activist turned hijacker Louis Moore, psychedelic chemist Alexander Shulgin, and the hacker Kevin Mitnick. Matt's most recent short film Bayard & Me (Sundance 2017) is about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who adopted his younger boyfriend in the early 1980s to obtain the same legal protections as marriage. His other shorts include I Remember about the artist and poet Joe Brainard and The Face of AIDS for Time Magazine about a notorious 1992 Benetton advertisement. Matt has made a number of short series about the arts for organizations like The Whitney Museum and the New York Times, and commercials and content for numerous brands. He is the cocurator of film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial and a Guggenheim Fellow. Show less

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Producer

Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin is the founder of Electric Chinoland, a film label specializing in American independent cinema. His current productions include the PBS Independent Lens documentary Over the Rainbow with director Jeff Peixoto, Sam Ellison's documentary Cheche Lavi, and Dash Shaw’s feature-length animated film Cryptozoo. Kyle’s previous producing Show more credits include Independent Spirit Award nominee Donald Cried, the GKids 2017 release My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea, Margaret Brown’s The Great Invisible, Lance Edmands’ Bluebird, Matt Wolf’s Teenage, Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture (Independent Spirit Award Winner 2011), and NY Export: Opus Jazz (SXSW Audience Award winner 2010 / PBS, BBC 4). He is a recipient of the Sundance Institute’s Mark Silverman Producing Fellowship, the San Francisco Film Society’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation Fellowship, the IFP/Cannes Marche Du Film Producer’s Network Fellowship, the Sundance Institute/Rotterdam Cinemart Producing Fellowship, and was named one of Variety magazine’s “Ten Producers to Watch.” He is a recipient of the Sundance Institute’s Mark Silverman Producing Fellowship, the San Francisco Film Society’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation Fellowship, the IFP/Cannes Marche Du Film Producer’s Network Fellowship, the Sundance Institute/Rotterdam Cinemart Producing Fellowship, and was named one of Variety magazine’s “Ten Producers to Watch.” Show less

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The Film

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. Her visionary and maddening project nearly tore her family apart, and her son reflects back on his fractured, fascinating relationship with his complicated and fabulously wealthy mother. Now her 70,000 VHS tapes are being digitized for future generations, giving us all an eye-opening glimpse into how television shaped, and continues to shape, our world.

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