Joan Baez: I Am a Noise

Joan Baez: I Am a Noise

Since her debut at the age of 18, musician, civil rights campaigner and activist Joan Baez has been on stage for over 60 years. For the now 82-year-old, the personal has always been political, and her friendship with Martin Luther King and her pacifism have shaped her commitment. In this biography that opens with her farewell tour, Baez takes stock in an unsparing fashion and confronts sometimes painful memories.

  • Released: 2023-02-16
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Genre: Documentaries, Music
  • Stars: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, David Harris, Mimi FariƱa
  • Director: Miri Navasky, Karen O'Connor, Maeve O'Boyle
  • steiner-sam - 21 October 2023
    Remarkably honest but somewhat incomplete
    It's a self-reflective documentary on the life of Joan Baez set in the context of her "farewell" tour of 2018-2019.

    Baez's tour, which included her son, Gabriel Harris, sets the frame for the documentary. The rest follows, more or less chronologically, her life from age 13 through the era of her greatest fame and political activism in the 1960s into the 1990s. The documentary uses home movies, insights from tapes of her therapy sessions in the 1990s, and news clips of some of her political activities.

    She only names three relationships in the movie--an early relationship with a woman named Kimmie, Bob Dylan, and David Harris. But her greatest focus is on her family--her Mexican father, Albert; mother, Joan; older sister, Pauline; and younger sister, Mimi. She describes the roots of her pacifism in the family's Quakerism. She especially probes the psychological issues she and Mimi experienced.

    "Joan Baez: I am a Noise" seems remarkably honest but somewhat incomplete. A couple of decades are missing from the documentary without explanation. And a lot of things are hinted at but left unresolved. Her need to perform to the end left me wondering. But I'll forgive a lot; those of us who protested in the 1960s were all somewhat in love with Joan Baez.