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The 50 Year Argument

.
Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese and longtime documentary collaborator David Tedeschi ride the waves of literary, political, and cultural history as charted by the influential publication, The New York Review of Books, America’s leading journal of ideas for over 50 years. This provocative film explores the power of ideas in shaping history. The film weaves rarely seen archival footage of cultural icons, newly filmed interviews with many of the Review’s current contributors with original footage reflecting the humming, restless energy of the paper's brilliant and charismatic editor Robert Silvers at work in the Review’s West Village offices.
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Running Time: 96 min.
Subject(s): American History, Arts and Culture, Current Affairs, History, Human Rights, Investigative Journalism, Literature, Media see all »
Language(s): English
Director(s):
Producer(s): Margaret Bodde, David Tedeschi, Martin see all »
Cinematographer: Lisa Rinzler
Editor(s): Michael J. Palmer, see all »

Press

  • "Martin Scorsese celebrates 50 years of The New York Review of Books in this incisive portrait of a vanguard cultural institution."
    Variety
    Scott Foundas
  • "A fascinating account of a publication that defies the modern culture of news reporting"
    The Guardian
    Henry Barnes
  • "Handsomely shot contemporary interviews and well-curated retro footage, personal anecdote and frontline reportage... A documentary with such rich subject matter and such a stellar cast of cultural heavyweights, which both solicits and rewards curiosity from its audience... A warm, engaging, celebratory love letter from one New York institution to another
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Ashley Lee
  • "A visual valentine, a (deserved) tribute to the NYRB editor Robert B. Silvers.
    The Journal of American History
    Stephen J. Whitfield
  • "This is a well crafted, and beautiful, greatest-hits showreel"
    REELING THE REAL
    Arthur Thompson
  • "A surprisingly accessible and appealing appreciation of the NYRB. Celebratory... Intellectual... One of the best-looking and one of the least subjective nonfiction films from Scorsese"
    FSR
  • "A fascinating look back on the major social and political events of the second half of the 20th century and early years of the 21st..."
    Globe and Mail
    Mark Medley

Festival & Awards

  • Berlinale Special - 2014
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest - 2014
  • Jerusalem Film Festival - 2014
  • Toronto Film Festival - 2014
  • Telluride Film Festival - 2014
  • New York Film Festival - 2014

additional materials

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The film is a wonderful documentary about a unique institution, the NYRB. It captures the very special blend of intellect and passion which has animated the publication since its founding. Co-editor-in-chief Robert Silver's humanity informs the entire film, while various long-time contributors offer telling insights into what the Review has meant to them, as well as to the highbrow cultural and political discourse of the nation. A loving look at five decades of thoughtfulness.
David Abrahamson, May 26, 2015
We screened the 50 Year Argument last weekend. It is a wonderful film. The intellectual integrity and the personalities of its heros come through vividly. I only wish that all our conversations were as meaningful and intense. (Except of course for Norman Mailer, who seems more interested in playing a part that really engaging, though even his misogynistic antagonism is entertaining.) Many in the audience stayed late after the film discussing its impact and pining for the heady days of the past. The downloaded film played beautifully and had great sound and resolution. Even without the sophisticated download systems, this is clearly the way for film distribution now. Jonathan Green, UCR ARTSblock Executive Director at University of California, Riverside
Jonathan Green, May 10, 2015

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