Frederick Marx

Oscar and Emmy Nominated Film Producer/Director. Marx achieved international fame for his film Hoop Dreams (1994) and Rites of Passage film about various forms of substance abuse and addiction

Frederick Marx is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director/writer with 35 years in the film business. He was named a Chicago Tribune Artist of the Year for 1994, a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award.  His film HOOP DREAMS played in hundreds of theatres nationwide…

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Frederick Marx is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director/writer with 35 years in the film business. He was named a Chicago Tribune Artist of the Year for 1994, a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award.  His film HOOP DREAMS played in hundreds of theatres nationwide after winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was the first documentary ever chosen to close the New York Film Festival.

It was on over 100 “Ten Best” lists nationwide and was named Best Film of the Year by critics Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Gene Shalit, and Ken Turran and by the Chicago Film Critics Association. Ebert also named it Best Film of the Decade. It is one of the highest grossing non-musical documentaries in United States history.

It has won numerous prestigious awards, including an Academy Nomination (Best Editing), Producer’s Guild, Editor’s Guild (ACE), Peabody Awards, the Prix Italia (Europe’s top documentary prize) and The National Society of Film Critics Award. The New York, Boston, LA, and San Francisco Film Critics all chose it as Best Documentary, 1994. Utne Reader named it one of 150 of humanity’s “essential works,” and the Library of Congress recently added it to its prestigious National Film Registry. HOOP DREAMS (1994) is the film that first interested Marx in the welfare of teenage boys. BOYS TO MEN (2004) distributed by Media Education Foundation takes that as its central theme. BOYS BECOME MEN, now in production, is the sequel, pinpointing initiation and mentorship as the solutions to the problems teen boys face.

In 1993, Marx received an Emmy nomination for HIGHER GOALS (1992) for Best Daytime Children’s Special. Producer, Director, and Writer for this national PBS Special, Marx directed Tim Meadows of “Saturday Night Live” fame. Accompanied by a curriculum guide, the program was later distributed for free to over 4,200 inner city schools nationwide. THE UNSPOKEN (1999), Marx’s first feature film, features stellar performances from Russian star Sergei Shnirev of the famed Moscow Art Theatre, and Harry Lennix, most known for GET ON THE BUS, BOB ROBERTS, TITUS, ER, and MATRIX. A hobbyist songwriter, in 1991 Marx recorded a number of his songs collectively known as ROLLING STEEL. Two of those 11 songs are used over THE UNSPOKEN tail credits and one is used in BOYS TO MEN. THE UNSPOKEN and ROLLING STEEL are available through this website.

Having worked for a time as an English and creative writing teacher, Marx began his movie career as a film critic, and has worked both as a film distributor and exhibitor. He has also traveled extensively. He’s lived in Germany, China, and Hungary. He’s traveled repeatedly through Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa and Himalayan India. With a B.A. in Political Science and an MFA in filmmaking, Marx has coupled his formal education with a natural gift for languages, speaking German and some Mandarin-Chinese. His interest in languages and foreign cultures is reflected in PBS’ international human rights program OUT OF THE SILENCE (1991), the widely acclaimed personal essay DREAMS FROM CHINA (1989), and Learning Channel’s SAVING THE SPHINX (1997). He consulted on Iranian-Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi’s feature TURTLES CAN FLY (2004) and was a teacher of renowned Thai feature filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Three of Marx’s films premiered at the New York Film Festival. His films are distributed throughout the web, on Amazon, and elsewhere. Having dedicated his life to the making and promotion of independent films, Marx, a true maverick in the increasingly commercialized world of “independent cinema,” continues to provide a voice of artistic and social integrity. He repeatedly returns to work with disadvantaged and misunderstood communities: people of color, abused children, the working poor, welfare recipients, prisoners, the elderly, and “at risk” youth. He brings a passion for appreciating multiculturalism and an urgent empathy for the sufferings of the disadvantaged to every subject he tackles. As his mission statement indicates (“Bearing witness, creating change”), his is a voice strong and clear, and profoundly human.

Journey From Zanskar (2010)

Journey From Zanskar tells the emotional story of 17 small children who leave home and family, possibly forever, in order to save their dying Tibetan culture. Parting from one of the most remote and desolate places on Earth – Zanskar, in northwest India – the expedition must travel on foot over 17,000 foot Himalayan passes. The two monks serving as guides walked this same path 30 years ago when they were children. Written, produced, and directed by Frederick Marx, narrated by Richard Gere, featuring the Dalai Lama, the film tells the story of their incredible journey. Distributed in France by Jupiter films, Frederick Marx is currently self-distributing Journey From Zanskar in the United States through his non-profit company Warrior Films.

Rites of Passage 2018

An estimated $500 billion is spent yearly on teen dysfunctions: drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and STDs, school dropouts and expulsions, gang and property crimes, traffic accidents, ADD, ADHD, depression and violence.[13] Teenagers unconsciously push up against the confines of their own bodies, the rules of parents and society, and the capacity of their own minds and willpower to discover the true limits of their potential. It’s because they need to be initiated into adulthood.

Rites of Passage will show us how historically all major cultures and religions have had their own rites of passage. The film will show us the price we pay as a society for not initiating our teens. Communities are answering the call by co-creating their own functional rites of passage today. We will see real families who’ve been struck by the horrors and crimes of youth and how they’re repairing themselves and their neighborhoods. Finally, it will not only show us teens themselves who’ve been transformed by rites of passage, but how their metamorphosis has revolutionized their relations with family and friends, teachers and bosses, creating positive changes rippling across homes, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, cities and farms across the planet.

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Living Your Life’s Purpose
Frederick Marx, Academy and Emmy nominated filmmaker most known for HOOP DREAMS and the series BOYS TO MEN, presents a 60 minute talk using his latest short films on why all teens require and deserve initiation and mentorship. Everyone knows the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” But few know Michael Meade’s apt inversion: “It takes the struggles of youth to raise a village.” Our functioning as a community can best be measured by how effective we are in offering young people meaningful rites of passage into adulthood – effective challenges that can positively define them as newly emergent adults. It’s our job as elders to hold and contain the energy of young people during their time of furious transition. The implications of not doing so already surround us in the myriad forms of dysfunctional teen behavior and in “adults” who live out their lives as suspended adolescents, controlled by their appetites and fears. What can we do to repair this breech in the generational chain? A long-time student of these issues, Frederick Marx has some inspiring ideas.


Illinois Pioneers with Frederick Marx

Frederick Marx Speaker - PDA Speakers


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