Director: Kirk Simon
Marblemen Productions/Simon + Film
Released last year to coincide with the anniversary, The Pulitzer at 100, is an independent look at the prestigious prize – in all its variations – and though you could claim it (almost) as some sort of hagiography, gushing over its subject and its many talking heads, what gets it over the line is that the director’s vision takes in the wider context of social history; we hear from actors (Liev Shrieber, John Lithgow, Natalie Portman, Helen Mirren), musicians (David Crosby, John Adams, Wynton Marsalis), novelists (Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz) and journalists (David Remnick, Carl Bernstein) and what we get is not only their pursuit of the work, their hunger, their energy and attitude but the setting – the very changing setting – behind and around committing to art and reportage.
Through Watergate and Vietnam to 9/11 and on we’re reminded of the importance of both on-the-ground reportage and then the more impressionistic side, the distraction of the arts, the power of words to both put us right in the situation or take us away from it, protecting us in some sense.
With the threat against free speech/freedom of the press that the current Trump administration poses, and the financial hobbling of journalism as it struggles to adapt, fiscally at least, to an online world The Pulitzer at 100 becomes an important piece. Nothing revelatory as such, but the documentation of the social history around the prize and the artists/writers/musicians makes for more than decent viewing.
The Pulitzer at 100 is part of this year’s Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand. The festival’s films screen in Wellington May 10-21, 2017 and in Auckland May 24 – June 5, 2017.