Marjoe est un reportage-confession-testament : confession d’un jeune homme qui a vécu une vie des plus bizarres et des plus scandaleuses comme on ne peut en vivre qu’en Amérique. De 4 à 27 ans, le révérend Marjoe Gartner a mené une double existence : pour le public, prédicateur farouche, évangéliste de choc ; et dans le privé, esthète hippy, athée convaincu. Dans le film, une équipe de cinéma suit Marjoe (abréviation de Marie Joseph) à travers les Etats Unis, lors de 2 grandes fêtes religieuses, des « revivals ». Marjoe explique, dans des appartés bouleversants, comment les prêcheurs de son espèce gagnent des fortunes en organisant des fêtes quasi-hystériques où ils manipulent les foules de fidèles crédules. Marjoe dénonce l’hypocrisie et le goût de l’argent camouflés derrière les plus puissants mouvements religieux qui se développent dans les Etats Unis d’aujourd’hui. Les supercheries continuelles et le bavardage iconoclaste de Marjoe en font en quelque sorte un « homme miracle » sans âme.
Howard Smith, born in New York in 1936, is an Oscar winning film director, producer, journalist, screenwriter, actor, and radio broadcaster. He started his career as a photographer. His work appeared in Life, Newsweek and many other national publications. Several years later, he pursued journalism from another perspective and became a writer for more than thirty years. His articles appeared in newspapers and magazines ranging from Playboy to The New York Times; from the Ladies Home Journal to The Village Voice. He wrote regularly for the New York City based weekly newspaper, The Village Voice, in the 1960s and 1970s. During the Village Voice’s early and formative years, his column, « Scenes », with its reporting on the emerging counterculture, became a part of the paper’s groundbreaking new journalism. The column ran weekly for twenty years and became known for its cutting edge coverage and innovative short-form critiques. Howard produced and directed, with Sarah Kernochan, the Oscar winning feature-length documentary film, « Marjoe », in 1972, about the evangelist Marjoe Gortner. When it was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and subsequently played in theatres worldwide, the movie caused a sensation by exposing, for the first time ever, the underbelly of a corrupt movement, including its self righteous religious leaders, that was about to burst into public awareness. He followed up with a documentary film in 1977, called « Gizmo! », about improbable inventions of modern times, caught on film. The film received wide distribution and acclaim. He was also a film actor and a screenwriter in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Howard had a weekend overnight show on WPLJ FM radio in New York City, and syndicated nationally, conducting extensive in-depth interviews with well-known musicians and notable figures, as well as playing an interesting mix of albums and songs in the « progressive » freeform rock music and Album-oriented rock formats. He covered many of the tumultuous era’s most legendary events including Woodstock, from which America heard his live radio reports, broadcast around the clock for five full days. At the peak of the historic Stonewall Riots, he managed to get inside the now famous bar. He was the only journalist who reported about the siege from that dangerous vantage point. Over the years he interviewed an array of pop-culture icons: From Mick Jagger to Buckminster Fuller; from Janis Joplin to Margaret Mead. The list continues with Jim Morrison, Hugh Hefner, Jane Fonda, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Ravi Shankar, Dustin Hoffman, Carole King, Jack Nicholson and many others. Howard Smith became particularly well known for his insights into the growing influence and economic power of America’s rapidly expanding Youth Culture. As a result, he frequently lectured and was a guest on many network TV shows.
Sarah Kernochan (born December 30, 1947) is an American film director, screenwriter and producer. She was born in New York City. She first gained prominence as co-director and co-producer with Howard Smith of the 1972 film Marjoe (about evangelist Marjoe Gortner), which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Her second documentary, Thoth, also won an Academy Award in 2002, this time for Best Documentary Short. During the next two years, she released two albums on RCA Records as a singer-songwriter, House of Pain and Beat Around the Bush. Since then, she has been primarily a screenwriter: * wrote the novel Dry Hustle (Morrow, 1977); * wrote and directed The Hairy Bird (1998); * wrote Dancers (1987); * wrote Impromptu (1991); * co wrote the screenplay for Sommersby (1993); * helped rewrite 9½ Weeks (1986), * wrote the story for What Lies Beneath (2000); and * directed Thoth (2002). She is married to writer/director James Lapine