Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy – Director Nancy Buirski

Filmmaker Nancy Buirski (The Loving Story, The Rape of Recy Taylor, By Sidney Lumet) journey through the last 100 years of American cultural, political and artistic touchstones continues with Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy.  A half century after its release, John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most original and groundbreaking movies of the modern era. With beguiling performances from Jon Voight (Coming Home) and Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate) as two loners who join forces out of desperation, black list survivor Waldo Salt’s brilliant screenplay, and 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, un-sanitized 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. Director and producer  Nancy Buirski joins us to talk about gathering the extensive archival material and compelling new interviews, and how this one film, Midnight Cowboy captured the essence of a time and a place, reflecting a rapidly changing society with striking clarity.


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About the filmmaker – Nancy Buirski is the director, producer and writer of award-winning films THE LOVING STORY; AFTERNOON OF A FAUN: TANAQUIL LE CLERCQ; BY SIDNEY LUMET; THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR; and A CRIME ON THE BAYOU. THE LOVING STORY, shortlisted for Oscar and winner of a Peabody Award was turned into the feature LOVING, co-produced by Buirski. Both DESPERATE SOULS and THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where the latter was awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Award. Buirski has consulted on many documentaries, including Academy Award winner SUMMER OF SOUL. Prior to filmmaking, Buirski founded and ran the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. She is the former Foreign Picture Editor at The New York Times and wrote and photographed Earth Angels: Migrant Children in America. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


90% on RottenTomatoes

“A sumptuous documentary…” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)

“Burski eloquently conveys the impeccable (but unpredictable) alchemy of the production by underscoring, with frequency, how much of its brilliance was an accidental confluence, how its specific magic was the right combination of people, events, and timing” – Jason Bailey, The Playlist

“The juiciest parts are digging into the film itself, a work of art that warrants the lavish treatment Buirski gives it and can be expected to get everybody talking again.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“Midnight Cowboy remains littered with contradictions… All that makes Nancy Buirski’s new documentary about its production and legacy more interesting.” – Adam Solomons, indieWire

“A snapshot of a time but also a continuation of a conversation.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International