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Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project


Directed by Matt Wolf
Documentary | USA | 87 Min
Festival highlights: London Film Festival, Hot Docs, and Tribeca Film Festival

A fiercely intelligent, radical activist who became a fabulously wealthy recluse in her later years, Marion Stokes was dedicated to furthering and protecting the truth — so much so that she recorded American television 24 hours a day for over 30 years. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project peels back the curtain on her life, through a mix of Stokes’ own archive of recordings and interviews with those who knew her best. 

Long before the term “fake news” entered the national conversation, the Philadelphia-based Stokes recognized the shifting nature of the media and the importance of protecting the truth. Working in television in the late 1960s, she believed in the power of the medium to inform or misinform the public. Stokes determined that a comprehensive archive of national media would one day be invaluable, and began recording television broadcasts in 1979, starting with news broadcasts of the Iranian hostage crisis at the dawn of the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and continuing until her death in 2012.

Spanning 70,000 videotapes that captured revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials, Stokes’ visionary and maddening project nearly tore her family apart.


Reviews & Press

“Here is the strange, but undoubtedly compelling and even heroic story of Marion Stokes” – The Guardian

“Outstanding… An information revolutionary, Stokes, despite her decades of isolation, touched the nerve center of the times.” – Best Films of 2019,  New Yorker

“Weirdly exhilarating… Enlightening and the stuff of madness.” Critic’s Pick – New York Times

“The Information Age has found a startling, eccentric heroine in the subject of Matt Wolf’s eye-opening documentary.” – LA Times

“Matt Wolf’s remarkable Recorder uses Stokes’ recording obsession as a way to explore both Stokes herself and the world she literally committed to videotape. The results are fascinating, weird, and often quite moving.” – Indiewire

“Intriguing from the first minute to last… Relating this stranger-than-fiction tale with the narrative twists and turns of a well-paced thriller, Recorder will make news junkies feel a lot better about themselves.” – Hollywood Reporter

Artforum
The Guardian
Frieze Magazine
LA Review of Books
Filmmaker Magazine
Forbes Magazine
The Wrap Review
BBC News
Philadelphia Inquirer