One woman’s passion for recording television programmes over the course of three decades is transformed into a fascinating record of 24-hour news culture.
The crisis that befell the US Embassy in Iran in 1979, was when Philadelphian television producer, archivist and civil rights activist Marion Marguerite Stokes began recording broadcasts on VHS tapes. By the time she died, as news of the Sandy Hook massacre was unfolding across US media, Marion had amassed a collection of 70,000 tapes. They captured revolutions, elections and wars, triumphs and catastrophes, and ran the gamut from newsflashes and talk shows to commercial spots. But together, they present a document of an increasingly media-driven age, highlighting how television shaped the world. Marion did so in a fight to protect the truth. Most networks disposed of their recorded material, allowing history to be re-written by those who followed. Marion’s aim was to ensure it wasn’t. Matt Wolf’s documentary is a fascinating portrait of this extraordinary character, an unsettling account of how easily history can be manipulated and an entertaining record of how we recently used to live.