10th edition CIFF – 10-14 April 2024

The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (2016 Feature Film)

Sara Fishko | USA | 2015 | 88 min | English | n.s.

From 1957 to 1965, Life Magazine photo journalist W. Eugene Smith was obsessed with bebop and free jazz. He aimed his camera almost exclusively at visitors to a loft in New York, where the cream of the jazz world came to improvise. Smith installed microphones as well, thus creating a unique audiovisual archive.

For many years Life/Magnum photographer W. Eugene Smith lived in a creaking loft on 6th Avenue in New York. Below him lived composer/arranger Hall Overton, while above him, jam sessions went on until the wee hours of the morning. Thelonious Monk rehearsed there with Overton for the famous album The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (1959). Between 1957 and 1965, Smith obsessively documented what happened in the building, taking some ten thousand photos and making thousands of hours of recordings – not only of those jam sessions, but also of his own phone conversations and the radio. This fascinating time capsule forms the heart of the documentary The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith, which focuses on the life and career of Smith, a workaholic who kept himself going with amphetamines and sleeping pills. Among the interviewed jazz musicians are Carla Bley, Bill Crow, Steve Swallow, and Overton students Steve Reich and Chuck Israels.

Place: CINEMA 3

Date: 7 April 2016

Time: 19:00

Duration: 1:30

Place: CINEMA 3

Date: 9 April 2016

Time: 12:30

Duration: 1:30

Year in



Sara Fishko


Tom Hurwitz




Jonathan Johnson




88 min


Calvin Skaggs
Sara Fishko

Production Company

WNYC NY Public Radio

Production Design

Evan Benjamin


WNYC NY Public Radio


Sara Fishko

Year of Production


Sara FISHKO is an Emmy-Award- winning film editor and radio broadcaster/podcaster. In 2009 she was the writer, producer and host of The Jazz Loft Radio Series, a multi-part dive into W. Eugene Smith’s audio archive that has been expanded into her debut documentary, The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (2015).



The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (2015, doc)