Official Selection, 2021 Tribeca Film Festival
The most illustrious byline in 1970s rock and roll journalism was that of Ben Fong-Torres, an interviewer with unrivaled access and an ambiguously Chinese last name. As the most esteemed music writer for Rolling Stone, America’s most renowned music magazine, Fong-Torres had a magnetic effect on the era’s biggest acts. Carlos Santana, Ike and Tina Turner, Jim Morrison—they all hand picked him to write their cover stories, even if he could be brutally honest.
But what is the story behind Ben Fong-Torres? Of his mysterious family name, or how a Chinatown kid helped build pop culture’s most influential rag? Suzanne Joe Kai’s documentary chronicles the greatest hits: the intimate moments with Elton John, Marvin Gaye, and others. But most of all it allows us to hear a voice we’ve only read, and see the face of a man we’ve long only imagined. Ben Fong-Torres emerges as a cultural icon, but also as an indisputably Chinese American dude who harbored Bay Area homesick blues and whose passion for the countercultural came lockstep with the coming of ethnic studies and an Asian American journalistic voice.
Monday, November 1, 2021