By JOE LEYDON
Oct. 4, 2009
An American Masters presentation of a Thirteen and Razor & Tie
production. Produced by Mary Spector, Mary Wharton. Executive
producers, Susan Lacy, Cliff Chenfeld, Craig Balsam. Directed by Mary
Wharton. Written by Wharton, Mary Spector.
With: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, David
Harris, Gabriel Harris, Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Although it feels more like an authorized biography than an in-depth
portrait, "Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound" should hold interest for
admirers of the renowned singer, recording artist and human-rights
activist. Scheduled for an Oct. 14 airdate on the PBS "American
Masters" series after its Toronto Film Festival premiere, this
well-crafted docu also will get wide circulation through its upcoming
release as part of a CD/DVD package.
Producer-helmer Mary Wharton smartly incorporates archival material
and talking-head interviews while following Baez's life and career
from her debut as a teenage performer at the 1957 Newport Folk
Festival to her recent tour in support of her 2008 Grammy-nominated
album "Day After Tomorrow." The most interesting segments, not
surprisingly, focus on Baez's involvement with the '60s civil rights
and antiwar movements. Recalling her march with black students in
Grenada, Miss., Baez says, "I was celebrity enough that
(anti-integration protesters) stopped throwing bricks because the
press was there." But the docu gives equal balance to her artistry,
encouraging notables such as Bob Dylan (who's quite candid about
their romantic past) to praise Baez for her "heart-stopping soprano
voice" and her enduring musical legacy.
Camera (B&W/color), James Fielder; editor, Kris Liem. Reviewed on
DVD, Houston, Sept. 25, 2009. (In Toronto Film Festival -- Yonge and
Dundas Square.) Running time: 83 MIN.