Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy

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Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy

July 6: Preview screening followed by Q&A with filmmaker Nancy Buirski and producer Susan Margolin, moderated by JBFC Board President Janet Maslin

Opens July 7

A half century after its release, Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most original and groundbreaking movies of the modern era. With beguiling performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman as two loners who join forces out of desperation, blacklist survivor Waldo Salt’s brilliant screenplay, and John Schlesinger’s fearless direction, the 1969 film became the only X- rated film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its vivid and compassionate depiction of a more realistic, unsanitized New York City and its inhabitants paved the way for a generation’s worth of gritty movies with complex characters and adult themes.

But this is not a documentary about the making of Midnight Cowboy: it is about the deeply gifted and flawed people behind a dark and difficult masterpiece; New York City in a troubled time of cultural ferment; and the era that made a movie and the movie that made an era. Featuring extensive archival material and compelling new interviews, director Nancy Buirski illuminates how one film captured the essence of a time and a place, reflecting a rapidly changing society with striking clarity.

"Desperate Souls convincingly argues that there’s no other time at which Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) could have become enduring movie characters, let alone have the tenderness between them depicted so subtly."
Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times


Q&A with filmmaker Nancy Buirski and producer Susan Margolin, moderated by JBFC Board President Janet Maslin
Thursday, Jul. 6 2023, 7:15
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  • Nancy Buirski is the Director/Producer/Writer of Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy; Director/Producer/Writer of A Crime on the Bayou (2021); Director/Producer/Writer of The Rape of Recy Taylor (2017); Director/Producer/Writer of By Sidney Lumet (2015); Director/Producer/Writer of Afternoon of a Faun (2013); Director/Producer/Writer of The Loving Story (2011); Producer for Loving (2015);  Special Advisor for Summer of Soul (2020); Consultant, various documentaries; Foreign Picture Editor at The New York Times; member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • Susan Margolin is a pioneer of digital distribution and creator of independent films with 25+ years’ experience.  Margolin co-founded film distributor New Video/Docurama Films in 1992 and ran the company until it was sold it to Cinedigm in 2012. As Co-President of Cinedigm Entertainment she distributed an extensive library of award-winning films including Short Term 12 and Academy Award nominated The Invisible War, along with 25 other Academy Award winners and nominees.  In 2016 Margolin launched St. Marks Productions, a production and distribution services company. She produced award winning and critically acclaimed films including The Rape of Recy Taylor (Starz), Paper Children (YouTube Originals). A Crime on the Bayou (Starz), A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting (HBO), Desperate Souls, Dark City, and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy (Venice, Telluride Premieres) and Generation Startup (Netflix).  Margolin serves on the board of directors of Chicken & Egg Pictures, BAFTA NY (emerita), the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), and Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She is a graduate of Brown University and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), the British Academy of Film & Televison Arts (BAFTA), and the Producers Guild of America (PGA).

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