Love and Politics
with Judith Malina
2011 USA | DOCUMENTARY | 52 Mins | Black & White
Synopsis: Judith Malina founded The Living Theater in 1947 together with her first husband Julian Beck. When Julian died in 1985 Judith married their mutual friend and lover Hanon Reznikov. With Hanon's unexpected death in 2008, Judith was left to continue The Living Theater on her own. She now lives and works with a young group of actors and followers in the lower east side of Manhattan. On the verge of her 85th birthday, she begins rehearsals on her new play with her Living Theater cast, so that before she dies she can make what could be her final plea for the beautiful non-violent anarchist revolution. But a deteriorating health and a slew of financial problems serve as obstacles to her realizing her dreams of bringing about change...
directed by AZAD JAFARIAN
produced by ALI YAGHOUBI
executive producer MAHBOUBEH GHODS
music by LINUS LAU
sound supervisor MELISSA CORNS
camera and editing AZAD JAFARIAN
The Living Theater archivist THOMAS WALKER
dialog editor SARAH RUDOLPH PAYAN
rerecording mixer HENRY AUERBACH
cello KEVAN TORFEH
violin RAY REINEBACH
editing consultants MELISSA HIBBARD, FARAH KHALID
featuring JUDITH MALINA, BRAD BURGESS, CARLO ALTOMARE, SHEILA DABNEY, THOMAS WALKER, JERRY GORALNICK, STEVE TAYLOR, HOMA HYNES, GARRICK BECK, TAMERON JOSBECK, MONICA HUNKEN, ALBERT LAMONT, LILI JACKQUELINE, JAY DOBKIN, ANDREW GREER, ANNA AGOSTINO, BEN CERF, BRENT WELLINGTON BARKER III, CASIMIRA ALTOMARE, CAECILIE GREVE, CHARLES FAIRBANKS, CHELSEY CLIME, GIA LISA KRAHNE, JEN EMMA HERTEL, KENNEDY YANKO, KYLE RYAN, MARIA GUZMAN, MARTIN MUNOZ, MARY ROUND, MIRANDA DOBKIN, SARA BELLA ANDERSON, SILAS INCHES, SORAYA BROUKHIM, LIZZIE STEELHEART, ZEBEDEE ROW
Director's Statement: When my producer Ali Yaghoubi first approached me with the idea of doing a film on Judith Malina, I am sorry to confess that I had no idea who she was. I asked him about her and he insisted that I should instead fly over to New York and meet her in person. All he would tell me was that she's an 84-year-old pacifist-anarchist theater director. I doubted that I would ever agree to do such a film, because I thought no one would be interested in watching a movie about an old lady – let alone a pacifist-anarchist old lady. Whatever that oxymoronic label even meant.
Further online research revealed her to be grandma Adams in the first Adams Family movie and also the lady who played Al Pacino's mother in one of my favorite 1970s films Dog Day Afternoon. That raised my interest, but still not enough to make me want to commit my time. I booked a flight from Los Angeles to New York with the intention of staying for only one week.
I stayed for four months.
It has been said that documentaries are meant to be discoveries. And the experience of making Love and Politics was just that for me. First and foremost I discovered prejudices I did not know I have. In the age of short-attention-span news cycles and tweets we have become so accustomed and used to defining each other with labels and lower-thirds that we unknowingly contribute to the clouds of ignorance that is so detrimental to the overall health of our society and culture. After meeting Judith in person I was immediately ashamed of having been an ageist. I regretted thinking that an 84-year old woman would have nothing interesting to say. I was also ashamed of being fearful and ignorant of the word "anarchist." I was trained to associate anarchism with chaos, war and disorder. But never with peace, love and pacifism.
And though my time with Judith and The Living Theater didn't turn me into a pacifist- anarchist, it did make me grow as a person in that it taught me to never judge people based on some obscure pre-conceived notions of who they must be and what they must believe in. It was a refreshing reminder that everyone has a story and every story should be given a chance to be told. And also a realization that a person's IMdB page may in fact be telling of the least of that person's accomplishments – not all! The challenge of making Love and Politics was finding ways to stay true to Judith Malina and her story. And I am confident that that meant making the film be mostly about who she is now and not who she was. Because with Judith, being "at the height of her career" in the 1960s when The Living Theater was inspiring the likes of Al Pacino, Martin Sheen, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan (among others) means nothing. Hers is a story of a woman in her eighties who is stronger, wiser, more motivated, more driven and more adamant than ever in realizing her dreams. Hers is a story of a twice-widowed woman at the end of her life, who wants nothing more than "the beautiful non-violent anarchist revolution."
Director's Biography: Azad Jafarian was born in 1979 in Tehran. His father is the acclaimed Iranian cinematographer Hossein Jafarian, and the person who inspired him to become a filmmaker. Soon after moving to the United States in 1993 he attended USC's School of Cinematic Arts where he graduated in 2001. He has been making short films and writing screenplays ever since, including a story collaboration with the Academy-Award winning writer-director Asghar Farhadi on 2009's About Elly. He is currently based in Tehran where he is developing his feature-length directorial debut.