Best known as a documentary filmmaker, especially for Hoop Dreams, Frederick Marx started his career as a film critic and a film distributor and exhibitor. His film loves were largely European “art” films and American independent shorts. His first films were experimental and comedic shorts. His first dramatic feature, The Unspoken, reveals influences from favorites like Tarkovsky, Bunuel, Herzog and Bergman. His latest fiction project is One House of UnAmerican Activities, based on his family’s experiences during the McCarthy period.
Marx’s primary artistic concerns include the intersection of the personal and the political, and the mixing of the lyrical and the factual. A central theme in his work is the outsider/outcast finding his way to a sense of family, the journey inward toward the nature of self, honored in equal measure with the journey outward toward the nature of community. Also a hobbyist singer/songwriter, some of Marx’s songs are heard in his recent films.
Marx became a member of the ManKind Project in 1995. Understanding the necessity for ritual initiation has influenced his personal and professional work ever since, and will be the primary subject of his upcoming feature documentary Men to Boys. He’s also recently worked in Folsom Prison doing initiation work with maximum-security inmates.
A practicing Buddhist for 15 years, Marx increasingly seeks ways to incorporate dharma and mentoring into the process of making films.