This Piece is Written By Manfred Kirchheimer with Edits By Tom Hurwitz The first tape recorders were stolen from the Nazis. Enter John T. Mullin and Bing Crosby. Just after the Allies’ victory in Europe, Mullin was investigating a rumored secret German radio-wave ray for the US Army. He came up dry on the ray, but found two portable tape recorders and a bunch of recording tape, both of which were virtually unknown outside of Germany.  Bing Crosby (no dummy) put up the initial investment to bankroll the Ampex Corporation and it’s line of tape recorders. A revolution was in the...

The Young Fighter begins with a tough Brooklyn narrator’s voice. Tough as the boxing world is tough, tough as Ray Drake’s manager and trainer are tough; tough as the decision Ray Drake had to make. Would he become the Champ his manager and trainer were bent on making, or the family man he also wanted to be? And, why did it have to be an either/or choice? In the fighting world, with the necessity of financial backing for the slightest chance at success, who owns Ray Drake - him or THEM? These questions are the centerpiece of Leo Hurwitz’s The Young...

Leo Hurwitz’s powerful 1948 WWII documentary with its ironic title Strange Victory explores this question: “If we won, why do we look as if we lost? And, if Hitler died, why does his voice still pursue us through the spaces of America’s life?” It is a very strange victory to be sure – when we successfully fight the violent effects of discrimination and persecution in Germany but come home to open expressions of hate in our own country. Why can’t we seem to solve it? Leo’s film gives us vital clues to hate’s tenacity as well as the purpose that...

Life doesn’t shatter in an instant, but it can seem like it when you live in a delusionally “happy,”  thumbing your nose at all kinds of rules, sort of “fun.” This is the stuff of mania and mania teeters on a very delicate balance; it can easily come crashing down. Plus manic defiance is no real way to have an identity or live a life – and it’s certainly no way to be a mom. There’s a delightful freedom of self-expression in Sean Baker’s Florida Project and in the freewheeling and loving relationship between six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her...

The Making of Native Land Leo Hurwitz’s Native Land is a 1942 expose of repressive forces against labor organizing. The film is based on the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee’s (1936-1941) 65 volumes of testimony to the Senate on their investigation. The investigation’s results couldn’t be more troubling. The Committee found that both Pinkerton and William J. Burns Detective Agencies sent spies to infiltrate labor unions and to report on members considered adversaries to the interests of business owners and corporations. What happened to those union members, who were only exercising their civil rights, is the subject of this film. Leo told...

Where is home? That’s the complicated question at the heart of Garth Davis’ film Lion, for a lost, bewildered, illiterate, scared, traumatized, stoically brave, and lovingly gentle 5-year-old boy, Saroo (Sunny Pawar). This little boy accidentally finds himself on a train taking him far, far from home, where he can’t speak the language, and has no one to help him find his way back. As this touching, heart-wrenching, inspiring film unfolds; finding home is what a very determined Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) will finally do – 25 years later. Lost Saroo and his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) set out one night...

Spain’s heart was breaking. It was 1936 and the telephone woke Leo Hurwitz from a deep sleep. He heard a friend’s voice on the other end of the receiver asking for help making a film with footage he’d just brought back from Spain. The Spanish Civil War was in full swing. As Leo tells it, the footage was jerky and primitive, with short shots. His friend was a still photographer with an idea: making a film about the blood transfusion institute of Dr. Norman Bethune from Canada providing blood for the wounded. To Leo, that wasn’t enough. There was no question...

Loneliness is a silent world. That world is the world Ben (Oakes Fegley), Rose (Millicent Simmonds), and Jamie (Jaden Michael) inhabit in Todd Haynes’ gorgeously filmed and sensitively rendered half-period piece, half-silent and all-around beautifully woven film Wonderstruck. Haynes draws on the visual; on images that speak louder than words, to tell the story of these children – Rose from an era 50 years before the 1977 story of Ben and Jamie. All three are searching for answers, for belonging, for someone to hear them, in a strangely confusing world of loss. What Ben, Rose, and Jamie find is more...

Leo Hurwitz was a pioneer in the development of documentary film in America, but he wasn’t the only pioneer in the Hurwitz family. His older sisters Rosetta (Rose) and Marie were pioneers in bringing child psychoanalysis to the United States. They were among the first child analysts to train with Anna Freud in Vienna in the mid-1920s and, on return to New York City; they were the first child analysts in America. Yet, because of the controversy over lay analysts in this country, Marie and Rose’s significant role in the history of child analysis is largely unrecognized. This is my...

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s touching, sad, scary, and deeply heart-warming romantic comedy tells us a lot about those old rules you live by. They’re not so easy to break. They turn into “should-s,” they carry guilt; they make you scared. And, they confuse you, particularly when it comes to trying to figure out what you can have and even what you want. Worse, what if choosing what you want means losing someone you love? What if there is more than one loss on the table – which loss is the one that wins? The Expected And...