The Marion Stokes Project



The Film

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. 



Upcoming Festivals

Wexner Center
Columbus, October 19

Heartland Film Festival
Indianapolis, October 19

New Orleans Film Festival
October 21

Milwaukee Film Festival
October 21-30

Antenna Festival
Sydney, October 20-27

Crandell Theater 
Chatham, October 23

Lake Placid Film Festival
New York, October 23 - 27

Cork Film Festival
November 15

Leeds Film Festival
November 16-19

More Screenings Soon
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Theatrical Playdates

New York, November 15 - 28

Nuart, Los Angeles
November 29 - December 5

Denver Film Society
October 30 - November 10

Landmark Ritz At The Bourse
Philadelphia, November 22 - 28

Vancouver International Film Centre
November 22 - 25

Museum of Fine Art, Boston
November 29 - December 5

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
December 19 - 22

Detroit Institute of the Arts
December 20-22 

Reviews & Press

“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

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

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

The Guardian
Filmmaker Magazine
Forbes Magazine
BBC News
Philadelphia Inquirer

The Filmmakers

Directed by Matt Wolf

An End Cue &
Electric Chinoland Production
in association with C41 Media

Kyle Martin
Andrew Kortschak
Walter Kortschak

Executive Producers
Andrew Kortschak
Walter Kortschak

Edited by
Keiko Deguchi

Music by
Owen Pallett

Chris Dapkins
Matt Mitchel
Director Bio

Matt Wolf is an award-winning filmmaker in New York whose feature documentaries include Wild Combination, about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell and Teenage, about early youth culture and the birth of teenagers. His short films include I Remember, about the artist and poet Joe Brainard, Time Magazine’s The Face of AIDS about a controversial Benetton advertisement, and Bayard & Me, about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. He is also the director of HBO’s It’s Me, Hilary and is the co-curator of film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.

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Producer Contact

Kyle Martin

Distributor,  Zeitgeist Films

Emily Russo
Nancy Gerstman

US Press

Susan Norget Publicity

Sales Agent

Amanda Lebow, CAA



An archive of stills from some of Marion’s 70,000 Tapes | Follow