Directed by Matt Wolf
Produced by Kyle Martin, Andrew Kortschak, and Walter Kortschak
Edited by Keiko Deguchi
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.
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 film Spaceship Earth about the controversial Biosphere 2 experiment premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is streaming on Hulu and other digital platforms. 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 was the co-curator of film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.
Reviews & Press
“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 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
“Utterly compelling and beautifully textured… A thrilling portrait of a woman collecting the history of the world as she lived through it through the very media we all engaged with, this is a powerful and truly important documentary feature.” – CriterionCast
“Recorder quietly seeds damning observations about the ways media narratives are formed, and how the shapers of these narratives distort the truth and our worldview.” – Flixist
“Marion’s life makes for a pensive, complicated romantic tragedy.” – Nonfics