‘Recorder’ Explores the Life of Radical Activist-Turned-Recluse Marion Stokes
The acclaimed documentary explores the strange life of a radical activist-turned-recluse who videotaped everything on TV for 30 years in the name of truth. The Independent Lens filmed time capsule will premiere Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project Monday, June 15 on PBS.
Fiercely intelligent, Marion recorded American television 24 hours a day for over 30 years. This critically acclaimed documentary peels back the curtain on her life, through a mix of Stokes’ own archive of recordings and interviews with those who knew her best.
Long before the term “fake news” entered the national conversation, Marion recognized the shifting nature of the media and the importance of protecting the truth.
Spanning 70,000 video tapes that captured revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials, Stokes’ visionary and maddening project nearly tore her family apart.
Recalling her as “extraordinarily, indescribably loyal to her own preferences and tendencies and beliefs,” family members and others close to Stokes reflect on their relationships with this complicated and dogmatic woman.
Even as she was making her recordings, American television networks were disposing of their archives; decades of footage disappeared into the trashcan of history. Thanks to Stokes’ project, this footage has been saved and her tapes are now being digitized for future generations by the Internet Archive.
Her work as an archivist will make its impact felt for generations to come, giving us all an eye-opening glimpse into how television shaped, and continues to shape, our world.
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, Premiere, Monday, June 15, 10/9c, PBS (Check your local listings)