"I've been reading, or trying to read, The New York Review of Books since 1963." says director Martin Scorsese, whose documentary on the famous periodical is due for a BBC airing this summer.
Made with co-director David Tedeschi, The 50 Year Argument, recently premiered at the Sheffiled Doc/Fest. The film is co-produced by the BBC and recalls the major political and intellectual debates that were thrashed out in the magazine’s pages since it first appeared in 1963.
Footage includes clips and interviews with Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag and James Baldwin, who all penned celebrated pieces for the NYRB, at the height of such momentous events as President Kennedy’s assassination and the Watergate affair.
The Vietnam and Iraq wars, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Occupy Wall Street movements are all recalled in incendiary detail. Irish writer Colm Tóibín also talks about the NYRB.
"(From the start) it was different than any of the other magazines out there,“ declares Scorsese. “It didn't look like anything else on the shelf."
Scorsese and Tedeschi previously worked together on George Harrison: Living in the Material World and The Rolling Stones concert documentary, Shine a Light. Scorsese pored over "some 15 thousand articles over 50 years “ to help him make the new film.