HBO will debut 'The 50 Year Argument,' directed by Martin Scorsese and his longtime documentary collaborator David Tedeschi, on Monday, September 29 exclusively. The documentary profiles The New York Review of Books and founding editor Robert Silvers, who, along with his co-editor, Barbara Epstein (who died in 2006), has led the NYRBR since its launch 50 years back.
“I have learned so much over the years from The New York Review of Books – it’s given me so much that I jumped at the chance to make this film," said Scorsese. "And David and I both welcomed the challenge of making a film that reflected what is so unique about the Review, really, a film about the adventure of thought, and, as Colm Toibin puts it, the sensuality of ideas. I hope we succeeded.”
"The 50 Year Argument" sifts through rare archival material, original vérité footage filmed in the Review’s West Village offices, contributor interviews and portraits by celebrated photographer Brigitte Lacombe, along with excerpts from the work of its best writers:
Mary McCarthy travels to Saigon during the Vietnam War to argue against the American presence there. Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer battle over feminism. Michael Greenberg chronicles the anger and frustration of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Joan Didion reads from her searing article about youths wrongly convicted in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case.
“When we started the paper, we weren’t seeking to be part of an establishment,” says Robert Silvers. “We were seeking quite the opposite…to examine the workings and truthfulness of establishments, whether political or cultural.”
"The 50 Year Argument" is an HBO Documentary Films presentation; a production of BBC Arena, Sikelia Productions and WOWOW in association with Verdi Productions and Magna Entertainment; edited by Paul Marchand and Michael J. Palmer; cinematography by Lisa Rinzler; portraits by Brigitte Lacombe; supervising producer, Mikaela Beardsley; executive producer for BBC Arena, Anthony Wall; executive producers for WOWOW, Hajime Hashimoto and Kayo Washio; executive producers, Chad and Michelle Verdi and Joshua Sason; produced by Margaret Bodde, David Tedeschi and Martin Scorsese; directed by Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi.