Two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple takes a lively behind-the-scenes look at The Nation, America’s oldest progressive liberal weekly magazine. Its influential history is a testament to independent, thorough, critical journalism. After an introductory scene juxtaposing headlines from 150 years of American political history alongside the evolution of the tools of publishing, we are introduced to the editorial team, staff members and interns working in-house and out in the field. Infused with humor by way of The Nation’s writers, the film also shows how past, present and future are closely interwoven. A scene in which a reporter talks to farmers who are affected by climate change is followed by a 1935 article and archive footage about the Dust Bowl. The re-election of unpopular Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker is coupled with the 1952 re-election of fanatical Communist-hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy; the homelessness caused by the earthquake in Haiti with a 1963 article titled “Can Haiti Be Helped?”; and a report on voter suppression in North Carolina with an opinion piece written by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. Hot Type shows The Nation to be a committed and tightly-knit journalistic family behind a magazine that places social debate center stage, and has an aversion to sensation-seeking, mainstream opinions and those in power.
Suzanne Mitchell, Barbara Kopple for Cabin Creek Films