Letter to the Editor

This film essay consists of photographs that documentary filmmaker Alan Berliner (First Cousin, Once Removed) cut out of the New York Times over the course of 40 years and archived according to an ingenious system. The thousands of images combine to form a monument to a medium that’s under threat from all sides, not least from the digital revolution and world leaders who describe journalists as the enemy of the people. In Berliner’s words, “When I started collecting the photos, the word ‘fake’ was reserved for fur coats and art forgeries.”

In his humorous and concerned commentary, Berliner focuses on the news consumer of the distant future, for whom the newspaper will probably be an unknown concept. Wandering through his personal archive, which records both the minor and major events of world history, he demonstrates the huge role this medium—and news photography in particular—once played in people’s lives. It’s a love letter and a valediction that asks us to consider what’s gradually being lost.

MASTERCLASS by Alan Berliner

Alan Berliner is an American documentary filmmaker whose feature-length documentaries have been broadcast around the world and awarded at top international film festivals. He has won three Emmy Awards and has presented retrospectives of his films at the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography in New York, and the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

His film essay Letter to the Editor, awarded at the IDFA, the documentary festival of festivals, consists of photographs he has collected from the New York Times and archived according to an ingenious system over the course of 40 years. Thousands of images together form an archive of a medium that is threatened on all sides.

In a one-hour masterclass, Slovak documentary filmmaker Peter Kerekes will interview the legend of American documentary filmmaking about his unique authorial approach, but also his love of newspapers and all that is slowly disappearing.

Directed by

Alan Berliner / USA / 2019 / 88 min.






Political regimes and conflicts


One World


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