Emmy-winning filmmaker Steven Bognar (co-director of A LION IN THE HOUSE and part of the team that created the forthcoming CONVENTION) emailed his thoughts on Friday reflecting on the death of Studs Terkel:
Documentary filmmakers hunger for the alchemy of story, image, voice, moment, sound and so many more elements which create those sublime cinematic passages present in the best of our traditions.
The lure of a story, soaked through to intoxication by the right voice, lived in the wheelhouse of Studs Terkel. He didn't make documentaries, but his influence on the oral history doc, starting in the 70's, is unmistakable. Many docs of that era grew out of the women's movement, which valued the power of unknown people, rank and file folks, telling their stories. Studs may have been the first person to start this tradition, back in the 60's.
Before NPR or THIS AMERICAN LIFE, Studs Terkel innovated the long-form, in-depth interview with non-famous people. The kind of interviews with enough room for the quirks and surprises that get people beyond sound bites, into their grainy corners and awkward confessions.
Studs Terkel will be missed. He was among the first of us, and the best of us.