Opened in NYC at the IFC Center on June 25th
Opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall July 4th
The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff profiles legendary jazz writer, journalist, and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, whose career has coincided with the greatest artistic, cultural, and political movements of the last 65 years. Any account of Nat’s career would not be complete without chronicling his determined efforts to promote and support freedom of expression. Narrated by actor Andre Braugher, Pleasures of Being Out of Step wraps the themes of liberty and identity around a historical narrative that stretches from the Great Depression to the Patriot Act.
Prolific and incendiary, Nat Hentoff is the author of twenty nonfiction books, nine novels, and two memoirs. His writing has been published in Down Beat, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Jazz Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Playboy, Esquire, The Atlantic, The Progressive, and The New Republic.
Hentoff is a pioneer who celebrated jazz as an emerging art form and was present at the creation of ‘alternative’ journalism. He was the first non-musician to be named a Jazz Master by The National Endowment of the Arts, while his humanitarian efforts and political commentary have shaped international discourse on freedom of speech.
At the core of the film are three extraordinarily intimate interviews with Hentoff, shot by award winning cinematographer Tom Hurwitz. Braugher’s powerful narration doesn’t tell the story – it is the story, consisting entirely of writing by Hentoff and some of his subjects.
With a potent mix of music, interviews, archival footage and photographs, the film employs a distinctive non-linear structure to engage the audience in a life of independent ideas and the creation of an enduring voice.
The sublime music of those Hentoff knew and interviewed, such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Bob Dylan, is interwoven with never-before-seen photographs and archival footage of these artists and other cultural figures such as Malcolm X and Lenny Bruce at the height of their influence and talent.
Director David Lewis discusses Hentoff’s influence with Floyd Abrams, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Dan Morgenstern, Aryeh Neier, Karen Durbin, Margot Hentoff and Phil Woods, among others.
David L. Lewis (producer/director) is a veteran New York City journalist with 30 years of experience in print and broadcast media. He is currently the Metro News Editor for WNYC radio, the largest public radio station in the nation. He was a producer and associate producer for correspondent Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes for five years before going independent in 2006. He was a staff writer for the New York Daily News and Gannett newspapers for 15 years, and has worked for ABC News, Time Warner cable television and various national magazines. Lewis taught reporting, writing and multimedia at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism for six years. This is his first feature-length production.
A companion book, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Nat Hentoff’s Life in Journalism, Jazz and the First Amendment by David L. Lewis, is now available in paperback from CUNY Journalism Press. Lewis’s book is an oral history based on the documentary film. The narrative, which contains much additional material, traces a unique career in American journalism and activism, culled from interviews with Hentoff and many of his allies and rivals. Hentoff is one of the inventors of modern jazz criticism, and one of the most ardent – and strident – voices in the country in favor of free speech and the free press, no matter what the cost personally or professionally.
Praise for The Pleasures of Being Out of Step
“Brisk and engaging. Hentoff comes off as an amused, amusing, endlessly fascinating man, one with more stories to tell than he could have fit into his almost three dozen books or his half-century of columns. He’s a great pleasure to watch, to listen to, and to read, even when you couldn’t disagree with him more.” – Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
“A sharp-looking and enjoyable doc that celebrates the writer’s legacy.”
– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff Details
Time: 86 minutes, English, 2013
Director: David L. Lewis
Producer: David L. Lewis
Narrator: Andre Braugher
Consulting Editor: Sam Pollard
Director of photography: Tom Hurwitz ASC
Sound: Peter J. Miller
WINNER! Grand Jury Prize, Metropolis Competition- DocNYC 2013