The Pulitzer at 100 is a documentary film that honors the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes by profiling what it means to win the prize.
Produced and directed by Kirk Simon, many Pulitzer Prize winners are interviewed while notable actors and a film director reads their work.
Journalists featured include David Remnick, Thomas L. Friedman, Robin Givhan, Mary McNamara, Nicholas Kristof, Carol D. Leonnig, Martin Baron, Sheri Fink, Carl Bernstein, and Jim Amoss. Featured authors include Robert Caro, Michael Cunningham, Michael Chabon, Paula Vogel, Ayad Akhtar, Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Eugenides, Tracy K. Smith, Toni Morrison, Tony Kushner, and Yusef Komunyakaa. John Adams, David Crosby, and Wynton Marsalis are the featured musicians. John Filo and Nick Ut are the featured photographers. Reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning work include John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, Yara Shahidi, Natalie Portman, and Liev Schreiber.
It was Joseph Pulitzer who started the School of Journalism at Columbia University 100 years ago and nobody expected just how big the prizes would eventually become.
When it comes to reporting or reading, the Pulitzer Prizes carry extra weight because it means that the author or reporter is one of the very best in their field. What The Pulitzer at 100 does is explore the importance of these works in the American democracy. Who are the people behind the words that touch a nation? What is their story? Power, immigration, race, and identity are common yet important themes that are seen throughout the works.
These writers have a lot of courage and struggles on their way to getting a story out there. Whether it was the Vietnam War, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, we tend to turn to the newspapers and television reporters to get the information out there first but more importantly with accuracy.
American history runs deep with racism and how it gets confronted. Toni Morrison tackles the subject in Beloved, which won the prize for fiction in 1998. Nobody can talk about it without mentioning Harper Lee’s book, To Kill A Mockingbird. Wynton Marsalis further elaborates on racism in “Blood on the Fields.” Finally, there’s the coverage during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans seen in their daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune. If you recall, there were photos captioned of white people salvaging goods while people of color were seen as looting.
The New York Times columnist Nick Kristof is highlighted for his work on Tiananmen Square in China. Carl Bernstein talks about being a young reporter who would break the Watergate story with Bob Woodward. The Washington Post duo were instrumental in bringing down the Richard Nixon administration.
Nick Ut took a photograph of a young girl during the Vietnam War as her body was burning from Napalm. She lived to talk about it speaks about the events in the film.
At one point, author Jeffrey Eugenides talks about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Middlesex. He spoke of how it was ahead of its time in talking about gender identity but it also touched on the immigration debate. This book was published in 2002, at a time when I couldn’t really find words to explain how I was thinking and feeling and knowing internally that I was female.
The film will open in New York at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema on July 21st and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on August 11th.