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Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

History . Biography . Documentary

From civil rights to the anti-war movement to the struggles of workers, folksinger Phil Ochs wrote topical songs that engaged his audiences in the issues of the 1960s and 70s. In this biographical documentary, veteran director Kenneth Bowser shows how Phil's music and his fascinating life story and eventual decline into depression and suicide were intertwined with the history-making events that defined a generation. Even as his contemporaries moved into folk-rock and pop music, Phil followed his own vision, challenging himself and his listeners. Not one to pull punches, Ochs never achieved the commercial success he desperately desired. But his music remains relevant, reaching new audiences in a generation that finds his themes all too familiar.

Actors: Jello Biafra , Joan Baez , Erik Andersen , Salvador Allende
Directors: Kenneth Bowser
Country: USA
Release: 2011-01-05
More Info:
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    At once an unsentimental portrait of the ambitious singer who thought himself bound for glory, and an affecting elegy for a time when song was a form of revolution.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Many of the interviews in the film – conducted with everyone from family members to Christopher Hitchens and Tom Hayden – look to be 10, even 20, years old. Together they concoct a complex portrait of an ultimately unknowable man.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Beautiful and melodic as well as pointedly political.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • John Anderson

    Briskly constructed and rich in Ochs' music and period notables, Kenneth Bowser's film will be a must for the artist's fans, but its fresh take on an overexamined decade should also appeal to Kennedy-era completists.

    Variety Full Review
  • David Rooney

    Kenneth Bowser's terrific documentary is a poignant portrait of an uncompromising artist.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    The story told by Mr. Bowser's film is complicated and tragic.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Melissa Anderson

    Though hewing to a too-conventional structure, Bowser's film is densely researched enough to yield insights not just into its overlooked subject, but also into his overly analyzed era.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    Though Bowser uses old footage when possible, the absence of his subject -- who died tragically in 1976 -- is keenly felt.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Staff (Not credited)

    It's a well-constructed and long-overdue tribute, yet Fortune refrains from delving into larger questions that surround Ochs's work. Did the singer's unwavering dedication to agitpop leave him stranded in the '60s? And does Ochs's diminished legacy among today's essentially apolitical neofolkies amount to a second tragedy?

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Leba Hertz

    Not only is a good look at a man who carved a small but important niche into the folk world but a good record of the turbulent 1960s and what motivated its protesters.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
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