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Between 1977 and 2012, when she died aged 83, Marion Stokes recorded more than 70,000 VHS and Betamax tapes’ worth of television footage. A wealthy African American, one-time member of the Communist party and producer and co-host of local current affairs talk show Input, Stokes was also a former librarian and a bit of an obsessive who was fascinated by the news and its dissemination. Her Philadelphia apartment contained several TVs, each set up with a video recorder so that she wouldn’t miss a second of the 24-hour news cycle. The tapes would then be labelled with Post-it notes and filed for later use.
Documentary film-maker Matt Wolf captures the breadth and significance of Stokes’s vast archive without getting bogged down. Recorder includes events such as the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. One brilliant scene cleverly splits the screen into a grid of four squares to show how 9/11 was reported in real time by different channels.
Stokes is a fascinating, elusive protagonist – she was a recluse who enjoyed daily martinis and felt a kinship with Steve Jobs. Yet Wolf treats her archive with reverence, rather than writing her off as an eccentric. “Taping these programmes for my mother was a form of activism,” says Stokes’s son, explaining that she was wary of fake news as a tool of fascism.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project review – the ultimate news junkie | Documentary films