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  • NYS Writers Institute

Albany Film Festival spotlight: Nelson Algren documentary

"A riveting, comprehensive depiction of an author that Ernest Hemingway declared

second only to William Faulkner in the pantheon of U.S. writers."

-Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter

Join us at the Albany Film Festival for a screening and discussion of the documentary ALGREN with director Michael Caplan and novelist Russell Banks.

Saturday, April 2, 2022, at the University at Albany

The new feature documentary ALGREN is a journey through the gritty world, brilliant mind, and noble heart of writer Nelson Algren. Exploding onto the national scene in 1950 after winning the first-ever National Book Award for The Man with the Golden Arm, Algren defined post-war American urban fiction with his gritty, brilliant depiction of working class Chicago.

Hemingway declared him second only to Faulkner; Vonnegut dubbed him a literary groundbreaker. Hollywood soon came calling, immortalizing his breakout novel with none other than Frank Sinatra in the lead role. Algren even won a notorious place in both the heart and work of France’s premiere feminist, Simone de Beauvoir. Including never-before-seen archival footage, newly uncovered audio recordings and his own rarely seen, personal photo collages, ALGREN charts the rise and fall of a man whose transgressions, compassion and thirst for justice pushed him to dedicate his life and career to giving a voice to the voiceless. Through interviews with Algren’s friends, literary experts and artists – including William Friedkin, Russell Banks, Philip Kaufman, Billy Corgan and John Sayles – the film is an intimate, witty and even antagonistic portrait of a tireless champion of America’s most marginalized.

An Albany Film Festival special event

Screening and discussion with director Michael Caplan and novelist Russell Banks

10:45 a.m. Saturday, April 2, Campus Center West Multi-Purpose Room, University at Albany

12 years ago, on what would have been Nelson Algren's 100th birthday, Russell Banks and Don DeLillo visited the NYS Writers Institute for a screening and discussion of the film "The Man with the Golden Arm." From the archives.

About Michael Caplan

Michael Caplan is an award-winning Chicago-based independent film director, producer and educator. He is currently developing several feature films, including a film written by acclaimed Chicago writer, Joe Meno, and a documentary series that illustrates the connection between the smallest microbes in the ocean to climate change and worldwide pandemics. Caplan also directed and wrote Stones from the Soil, a documentary about his father's escape from the Nazis, which showed on national PBS. Caplan is an Associate Professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago.

About Russell Banks

Russell Banks is an American novelist known for his portrayals of the interior lives of characters at odds with economic and social forces. The internationally acclaimed author has published 21 works of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, The Book of Jamaica, Cloudsplitter, Lost Memory of Skin, and most recently, Foregone. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages. Two of his novels, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, were made into award-winning feature films.

"Opinion: Nelson Algren Is a Writer for Our Times," by Edward McClelland, December 3, 2021

Photos of Nelson Algren


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