Janis Ian: Breaking Silence | Sneak Preview

Sneak Preview

Director Varda Bar-Kar and participant Janis Ian expected to attend

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s, teenage singer-songwriter Janis Ian’s hit song about an interracial relationship, “Society’s Child,” launched her illustrious career but also ignited controversy. Over the next six decades, Ian jammed with Jimi Hendrix, partied with Janis Joplin, and played duets with Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. But she also had to work to overcome the stigma of her debut, homophobia, record industry misogyny, and a life-threatening illness to produce an indelible body of work that continues to draw large audiences around the globe. Janis Ian: Breaking Silence chronicles the singer’s epic life journey from her Jewish childhood on a chicken farm in New Jersey through the release of the disruptive album Breaking Silence, which she leveraged to come out publicly about her gay marriage. With access to Ian’s incredible body of music, her vast archive, family, friends, famed collaborators, and music journalists, this in-depth documentary balances the intimacy of a home movie against a sweeping historical and contemporary context.

Varda Bar-Kar is a 2023 JFI Filmmaker in Residence

Varda Bar-Kar, award-winning director of Jewish descent born in England, boasts an international upbringing, fostering a global perspective and love for diverse cultures. Transitioning from script supervision for maverick directors like Jim Jarmusch, she directed festival-winning shorts, including the standout film “Window” starring Academy Award-winning actor, the late Louis Gossett, Jr. Her acclaimed documentary "Big Voice" (Gravitas Ventures) garnered “best documentary” awards, screened at the US Capitol, and aired on Netflix and PBS, winning a Bronze Telly Award. "Fandango at the Wall" (Sony Music Latin), executive produced by luminaries Carlos Santana and Quincy Jones, aired on HBO/MAX, screened at the Library of Congress, and received Grammy acclaim. Varda has directed for FOX's "9-1-1" and served as a consulting producer on Netflix's "Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me." Currently, she's crafting a music documentary in association with the prestigious PBS series American Masters on maverick singer-songwriter Janis Ian. “Janis Ian: Breaking Silence” features Janis Ian, Lily Tomlin, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and Jean Smart, among others. Varda is a Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Director Mentee, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Resident, SFJewish Film Institute Resident, and a recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and Jewish Story Partners.

Sponsored by Roselyne C. Swig

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