Berlin: Director and producer Martin Scorsese says he hopes his documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the New York Review of Books will point young people in the right direction for getting reliable information in an age of data overload.
Scorsese and co-director David Tedeschi screened what they said was a nearly finished version of the as-yet-untitled documentary on Friday at the Berlin International Film Festival.
They said it should be ready for release in March.
Best known for box-office hits such as Raging Bull and The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese said he had been a faithful reader of the review.
Since it was launched during the 1963 New York newspaper strike, the influential publication has published authors and critics ranging from Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal and Joan Didion to Ian Buruma and Zoe Heller.
Scorsese said the review’s editor and co-founder Robert Silvers — who attended the screening — had asked him to make the film, and that he had agreed in part because he wanted to guide young people to sources of information he deemed trustworthy.
“Particularly in this age of the glut of information and the data that’s around, how do they select, how do they choose what to believe in as a value?” the director said after the screening.
“They have no idea of how fragile the freedom is, none, you see. And so this is an attempt in a way to maybe point them in a direction.”
The film interweaves scenes of Silvers and other staff at work in the review’s book-filled Manhattan office with interviews with contributors, including Irish author Colm Toibin and British commentator Timothy Garton Ash. It also includes footage from a 1971 televised encounter in which review contributors Mailer and Vidal spar over an article Vidal had written attacking Mailer, accusing him of misogyny and equating him with Henry Miller and the cult killer Charles Manson.
That, and other such clips, bring to life what Scorsese admitted was a “tricky subject” of making a film about “literature and the word”.
Silvers was full of praise for the result, saying: “I want to say that Marty is dealing with after all 15,000 articles over 50 years and I think it’s been a work of genius to find a line and to find something meaningful in this enormous murk of all our stuff.”