Park City, Utah
Former Twin Cities Reader editor turned New York Times media reporter David Carr steals the show in the new documentary "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times." The film is both a tribute and a eulogy to the values of old-school print journalism in the Internet age, and Carr is the pugnacious, gravel-voiced funnyman at the wake.
Director Andrew Rossi considers the ethical tangles created when old-line institutions such as the Times coordinate their coverage with Wikileaks, and features the elegantly attired TImes executive editor Bill Keller mouthing platitudes about the unfortunate necessity of draconian newroom cuts. It's Carr, a former crack addict, single parent, welfare dad and bestselling memoirist, who gives the movie its soul. When smug new media striplings fault the paper for its missteps -- from Judith Miller's erroneous prewar coverage of Iraq to Jason Blair's outrageous fabrications -- Carr returns fire with immaculately reasoned bare-knuckle defenses of the paper's ambitious, expensive, rigorous journalism.
Rossi follows Carr through his coverage of the financial and ethical bankruptcy of the Tribune Company at the hands of freebooting takeover artist Sam Zell, who suggested the Chicago Tribune should add a porn section to boost circulation. He tags along on Carr's trips to Minneapolis, where he recounts his drug bust inside the Skyway Lounge strip club, and gives a salty pep talk to the dispirited members of the Minnesota Magazine Publishers Association. Carr becomes the film's central metaphor, a battered but unbowed survivor who has remade himself time and again, usually for the better. If the newspaper industry needs a role model for its own metamporphosis, it could hardly do better than Carr.
"Page One," one of 16 titles in the Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Documentary Competition, was picked up for theatrical distribution by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media.