David Tedeschi Co Director of the "The 50-Year Argument" at the NYFF

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David Tedeschi has been making documentaries with Martin Scorsese for the past six years, which is less than a tenth of the history their most recent subject can claim. The 50 Year Argument investigates the culture and debates that have sprung up around the New York Review of Books during that history, featuring an impressive interview line-up of past and present-day contributors using new and archival footage.

Founded by Robert B. Silver and Barbara Epstein in 1963 at the beginnings of the Feminist movement and Vietnam protests and in the midst of Black Americans’ struggle for civil rights, the magazine quickly became home to more than its intended intellectual book critiques. Rather, the Review has been a central forum wherein the great minds of the last fifty years have hashed out their arguments, making the documentary more than a history of a magazine but a history of the nation itself. The 50 Year Argument does not apply that tradition of critique to the magazine but rather celebrates how it has fostered such an important public space for so long. The Film Society of Lincoln Center calls the documentary “an examination of its [the Review’s] amazing track record of wrestling with the urgent issues and inconvenient truths of the day, from Vietnam to Iraq.”

At the 50 Year Argument’s New York Film Festival premiere, we spoke with Tedeschi about what makes the Review a worthwhile documentary subject, which contributor’s presence at the premiere made the evening extra momentous, and how our relationship with media has transformed over the years. This documentary marks the first time Tedeschi has stepped out of the editing room, co-directing the film with Scorsese. His previous editing work has been nominated twice for Primetime Emmy awards, once for George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) and once for No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005).


As you can hear in the clip, Tedeschi grew up reading the New York Review of Books and finds it a genuine representation of New York and American intellectual life. He hedged on picking a favorite interview but made sure we knew the presence of Egyptian blogger and the Review contributor Yasmine El Rashidi was a special treat for him that night. Sifting through fifty years of media history, Tedeschi was most struck by how much our interconnectedness across the globe has strengthened.

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