American Masters: Elia Kazan: A Letter to Elia (PBS)
Martin Scorsese’s Elia Kazan: A Letter to Elia is a scholarly monograph, a meditation on the inspirational power of art and quite possibly the greatest fan letter of all time. One of the primary reasons we go to the movies is to see ourselves, both as we are and as we would like ourselves to be, and Scorsese, acclaimed director of Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and more, was first a moviegoer. Kazan’s On the Waterfront and East of Eden—in which the teenaged Scorsese saw himself, his family, his working-class neighbors, his own inner struggles—made indelible, life-altering impressions. In A Letter to Elia, Scorsese annotates clips from those two classics and other Kazan films he reveres (A Face in the Crowd, Wild River, America, America) with his own observations about directing and life and those of Kazan himself. Scorsese says he saw in Kazan’s work a “mixture of toughness and tenderness” that spoke to him. “I was as if the world that I came from, the world that I knew, mattered.” From the mix Scorsese assembled emerges not one but two intimate portraits of great directors. For its masterful orchestration as well as its insight and candor, Elia Kazan: A Letter to Elia receives a Peabody Award.
Executive producers: Stone Douglass, Taylor Materne. Executive producer for American Masters: Susan Lacy. Executive producer for IFC: Jonathan Sehring. Producers: Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff. Directors: Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones. Writers: Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones. Cast: Elias Koteas (voice of Kazan). Director of photography: Mark Raker. Editor: Rachel Reichman. Web designer: Colin Fitzpatrick.