Wrestling With Angels, Playwright Tony Kushner | A Film by Academy AwardŽ-winning Director Freida Lee Mock
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NEWSDAY, JAN STUART,  -- No one sleeps at the Sundance Film Festival...
Trailing Tony Kushner:

“Frieda Lee Mock's vigorous and peripatetic study of the brashly leftist writer has something to lift the hearts of intelligence-starved theatergoers, demoralized progressives and dispirited gay Mormons alike. Trailing Kushner from his small-town Louisiana birthplace (where he visits with his horn-tooting brother and music conductor father) to his Hudson Valley writing studio, Mock shows an artist who backs up his thematic focus on being a good citizen with action.We see Kushner exhorting a Vassar graduating class to a life of civic involvement, monitoring access to a polling station in Texas, making himself available for theater-student workshops that invariably morph into mini-political rallies, and staging a showy, star-studded wedding ceremony with his partner Mark Harris guaranteed to elicit maximum media coverage.
Mock deftly interweaves a wealth of performance footage, including sequences from the film and Broadway version of "Angels in America," rehearsals with composer Jeanine Tesori of Kushner's musical "Caroline, or Change," a reading of a dramatic homage to his female ancestry featuring Alice Playten, Swoozie Kurtz and Marian Seldes, and a reading by Marcia Gay Harden of a play in which the character of Laura Bush regales a group of dead Iraqi children. "What's the difference," Kushner asks his audience before the show, "between us and someone like Laura Bush, who is literally in bed with George Bush?"

The most devastating sequence contrasts scenes from the Chicago Opera Theater staging of the children's opera "Brundibar" (for which Kushner penned the libretto) with a Nazi propaganda film showing the doomed young original cast at the Theresienstadt death camp in 1944.

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