The second half of my spotlight on the 2011 Sundance US Documentary Competition titles begins with Andrew Rossi’s PAGE ONE: A YEAR INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES, whose subtitle makes this one pretty self-explanatory.
Sundance Program Description:
With the Internet surpassing print as our main news source, newspapers going bankrupt, and outlets focusing on content they claim audiences (or is it advertisers?) want, PAGE ONE chronicles the media industry’s transformation and assesses the high stakes for democracy if in-depth investigative reporting becomes extinct.
The film deftly makes a beeline for the eye of the storm or, depending on how you look at it, the inner sanctum of the media, gaining unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom for a year. At the media desk, a dialectical play-within-a-play transpires as writers like salty David Carr track print journalism’s metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay vital and solvent. Meanwhile, rigorous journalism—including vibrant cross-cubicle debate and collaboration, tenacious jockeying for on-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching—is alive and well. The resources, intellectual capital, stamina, and self-awareness mobilized when it counts attest there are no shortcuts when analyzing and reporting complex truths.
Director Rossi previously directed two documentaries both focused on New York City’s restaurant world, EAT THIS NEW YORK and LE CIRQUE: A TABLE IN HEAVEN, and served as the Associate Producer on 2004 Sundance alum CONTROL ROOM, on which his PAGE ONE Producer, Alan Oxman, also served as Co-Producer. Oxman was also Co-Producer on Edet Belzberg’s Academy Award-nominated, 2001 Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning CHILDREN UNDERGROUND, and worked with Belzberg again as Producer of her 2008 Sundance doc, THE RECRUITER. He is also the Producer of another 2011 US Competition title, Susan Saladoff’s HOT COFFEE, which will be featured here next week.
Why You Should Watch:
News junkies won’t need any convincing to see this – the fly-on-the-wall access alone makes it must-see, no matter how much you know about the inner workings of the Gray Lady. For readers who may not already swear by the NYT, Rossi manages to condense some of the biggest headlines of the past year into less than two fascinating hours, while addressing the legacy of the paper and its often-questioned future sustainability in the face of shrinking advertising revenues and the growth of competition from the Internet.
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above.