Carbon Arc Review: Joan Baez I Am A Noise

I am the Artistic Director at Carbon Arc Cinema, part of a group of programmers who choose the films we screen. 

Directed by Miri Navasky, Maeve O’Boyle, and Karen O’Connor | 113 min | Carbon Arc Cinema 

That this documentary has three directors could be a reflection of both it’s scale — a comprehensive look at 60 years of a career as a counter-culture icon, activist, and singer — and that perhaps there’s an element of this project having been assembled from multiple sources. That’s not a dig, this element lends strength to its storytelling.  At least one of the filmmakers, Karen O’Connor, is a longtime friend of the singer, but said in her director’s statement that Baez would not have any creative or editorial input into the project, which distinguishes itself by stepping away from the predictable music biopic tropes and leans instead into Baez’s activism. This is someone who marched with Dr King, after all.  That’s not to say we don’t get scenes from her starry youth in music while the Sixties swung. Her love affair with Bob Dylan is touched upon, and even though it led to heartbreak that doesn’t keep Baez from having his portrait up in her home today. The flashbacks and wealth of archival footage is balanced nicely with Baez’s recollections to the camera of her life, work, successes and regrets, and how she’s managing to bring at least one part of her career to a close.  Elegiac, thoughtful, and illuminating.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.