Pleasures profiles legendary jazz writer and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, whose career tracks the greatest cultural and political movements of the last 65 years. The film is about an idea as well as a man – the idea of free expression as the defining characteristic of the individual. Hentoff is a pioneer who raised jazz as an art form and was present at the creation of ‘alternative’ journalism in this country. Pleasures wraps the themes of liberty and identity around a historical narrative that stretches from the Great Depression to the Patriot Act. With a potent mix of interviews, archival footage, photographs and music, the film employs a complex non-linear structure to engage the audience in a life of independent ideas and the creation of an enduring voice. At the core of the film are three extraordinarily intimate interviews with Hentoff, shot by award-winning cinematographer Tom Hurwitz. The film also includes interviews with Floyd Abrams, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Dan Morgenstern, Aryeh Neier, Karen Durbin, Margot Hentoff and John Gennari, among others. It features music by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan and Charles Mingus, and never-before-seen photographs of these artists and other cultural figures at the height of their powers. Pleasures is designed to engage the audience in a life of independent ideas and the creation of an enduring voice. That is a legacy we cannot ignore. Director David L. Lewis drops by to talk about a fierce defender of the most basic and important American contribution to civil society, free speech.
“Brisk and engaging… an amused, amusing, endlessly fascinating man.” – Village Voice
“Terrific” – Toronto Star
“Brilliant, thoroughly engaging” – Cinesource Magazine
“This mellow chronicle of Nat Hentoff is like a tour through New York’s past.” – Joe Nuemaier, New York Daily News