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A Letter to Elia


USA Directors: Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones


Producers: Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Screenwriters: Jay Cocks, Kent Jones Cinematographer: Mark Raker Editor: Rachel Reichman Cast: Elia Kazan 2010/color, b&w/60 min.


MARTIN SCORCESE


Oscar winner Martin Scorsese is a major figure in American cinema. His films have tapped into the zeitgeist with their gritty style and New York backdrops. Raging Bull was named the best film of the 1980s by Siskel and Ebert. A true pioneer of the art form, Scorsese is a living master.


Selected Filmography Shutter Island (2010) The Departed (2006) Casino (1995) Goodfellas (1990) Raging Bull (1980) Taxi Driver (1976) Mean Streets (1973)


KENT JONES


Kent Jones, formerly a programmer for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is the executive director of the World Cinema Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese and dedicated to the preservation of neglected films from developing coun- tries. He spent five years with The Daily Show, writing over 700 episodes to win a Primetime Emmy. He also wrote and was an on-air personality for The Rachel Maddow Show.


99


In this riveting tribute to Elia Kazan and his work, legendary director Martin Scorsese serves up a feast of scenes from the Broadway and Hollywood career of the man he considers his mentor, exploring the context in which he saw such films as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and East of Eden and the impact they had on him.


Painting an intimate picture of himself as well as of Kazan, Scorcese recalls a boyhood spent grappling with his identity and the pains of adolescence, seeking refuge in both the Catholic cathedral near his home and the movie theater in which he vicariously experienced the world onscreen. Kazan’s filmography took Scorcese years to digest, but he instinctively recognized its authenticity and began to study how his hero engineered audience reaction through camera angle, lighting and sound editing. He also came to identify the “soul of an immigrant,” as he calls the viewpoint he and Kazan shared, characterized by the careful avoidance of troublemaking—though their films were populated by characters who did otherwise.


Scorsese and writer/codirector Kent Jones have brought together film clips, photographs, an interview videotaped toward the end of Kazan’s life and auto- biographical readings to flesh out their portrait of the complicated director, not flinching from discussions of his controversial choice to admit before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early 1950s that he and several of his colleagues were members of the Communist Party. The scandal over this action colored the rest of Kazan’s life, as is evident in the poignant moment in 1999 when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Oscar, Scorsese at his side.


—VAL MOSES


DOCUMENTARY


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