Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
Directed by Matt Wolf
2019, 87 minutes


Official Website
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Marion Stokes was secretly recording television twenty-four hours a day for thirty years. It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the dawn of the twenty-four hour news cycle. It ended on December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Marion passed away. In between, Marion recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today.

Before “fake news” Marion was fighting to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. The public didn’t know it, but the networks were disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history. Remarkably Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we’ll be able to search them online for free.

This is a mystery in the form of a time capsule. It’s about a radical Communist activist, who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Her work was crazy but it was also genius, and she would pay a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project. Recorder premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, London Film Festival, and Hot Docs. It will be distributed in theaters nationwide by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber and broadcast on PBS Independent Lens. 

An End Cue and Electric Chinoland Production
in association with C41 Media
Produced by Kyle Martin, Andrew Kortschak, Walter Kortschak

Press & Review

Matt Wolf’s remarkable Recorder uses Stokes’ recording obsession as a way to explore both Stokes herself and the world she literally committed to video tape. The results are fascinating, weird, and often quite moving.” - Indiewire

Intriguing from first minute to last... Relating this stranger-than-fiction tale with the narrative twists and turns of a well-paced thriller, Recorder will make news junkies feel a lot better about themselves.” - Hollywood Reporter

One outstanding offering in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is Recorder, which reveals the secret greatness of a reclusive activist... An information revolutionary, Stokes, despite her decades of isolation, touched the nerve center of the times.” - New Yorker

Marion’s life makes for a pensive, complicated romantic tragedy.” - Nonfics

Recorder is more than just a portrait of a woman’s complicated relationships and obsessions… Recorder quietly seeds damning observations about the ways media narratives are formed, and how the shapers of these narratives distort the truth and our worldview.” - Flixist

Filmmaker Magazine Interview