Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

Movie Information

A fascinating portrait of a woman with a fearless, intractable and bludgeoning intellect.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Matt Wolf
Starring: Marion Stokes, Michael Metelits
Rated: NR

Marion Stokes was, among many things, a black civil rights activist, a communist, a librarian, an Apple computer evangelist, a Trekker, a mother and a wife. It can also be argued that she was one of the greatest media analysts of modern times — though in secret.

In the magnificent documentary Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, we learn that, for more than 30 years, Stokes (assisted by a handful of household staff and occasionally her family) filled 7,000 VHS tapes with around-the-clock recordings of TV shows — mainly news programs, but pretty much anything that aired on Philadelphia channels.

Her interest was sparked by the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, at which point “she hit record and never stopped,” recalls her son, Michael Metelits. Stokes was suspicious of the coverage, concerned about bias and mistruths from the government and the media, and, in Metelits’ words, keenly aware — to an obsessive degree — of TV’s power “to inform or misinform.”

Director Matt Wolf (Bayard & Me) presents an expansive, fascinating portrait of a woman with a fearless, intractable, bludgeoning intellect, as well as the tension between genius and madness, collecting and hoarding, and whether a person who’s actually being tailed by the FBI — as Stokes once was — can really be considered paranoid.

Now playing at Grail Moviehouse

About Melissa Williams
I love all three major Barrys: Gibb, White & Manilow.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.