Kent Jones Talks About ” A Letter to Elia” Documentary with Martin Scorsese!

Elia Kazan was one of America’s premiment directors of film and stage. His ability to suss out the actors and elicit performances that made for incredible films and plays made him very much in demand.

For Martin Scorsese, growing up in Little Italy, seeing On the Waterfront and East of Eden as a young man was a life-changing experience. Scorsese appears on and off camera throughout A Letter to Elia, taking us through Kazan’s life and through his own as well, and through his growing realization that there was an artist behind the camera, someone “who knew me, maybe better than I knew myself.”

The film is about being exposed to the right movies at the right moment in your adolescent life, when you’re wide open and ready to connect, to be spurred on by the work up there on the screen, and then, maybe, to chart a course toward making your own movies.

Composed of clips, stills, readings from Kazan’s autobiography and his speech on directing (read by Elias Koteas), a videotaped interview done late in Kazan’s life, and Scorsese’s commentary on and offscreen, A Letter to Elia takes a close look at the life of art and its creation – the work, the distractions, the inspirations, the complications, the intersections between art and experience.

A Letter to Elia, written and directed by Scorsese and his longtime collaborator Kent Jones, is a deeply personal film, a frank portrait and self-portrait, and an equally frank acknowledgement of the closeness and the distance between artists and their art.

Kent Jones

Film Critic and film-maker Kent Jones was generous enough to give us a bit of time to talk about this documentary about Elia Kazan.

ON November 9th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment released the Elia Kazan Film Collection, an 18-disc DVD gift set including

    A Letter to Elia and 15 of Kazan’s most acclaimed and noteworthy films.

The full collection, in addition to the documentary, includes:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945),
Boomerang! (1947),
Gentleman’s Agreement (1947),
Pinky (1949),
Panic in the Streets (1950),
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951),
Viva Zapata! (1952),
Man on a Tightrope (1953),
On the Waterfront (1954),
East of Eden (1955),
Baby Doll (1956),
A Face in the Crowd (1957),
Wild River (1960),
Splendor in the Grass (1961), and
America, America (1963).
Of the collection, 5 films have never before been released on DVD: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Viva Zapata!, Man on a Tightrope, Wild River, and America, America. The Elia Kazan
Sikelia Productions with Far Hills Pictures present
Consulting Producer DIANE KOLYER
Written and Directed by MARTIN SCORSESE and KENT JONES
© 2010 Sikelia Productions

Thank you to Kent Jones for his time and sharing about the process of making this very powerful documentary. Thank you to Andrew Sternberg, The Media Grind for making this happen.

For more about this documentary, please visit

Stevie Wilson,

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Author: Stevie Wilson

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