Festival (1967): Murray Lerner’s Docu about the Newport Folk Festival

Murray Lerner wrote, produced, and directed Festival (aka Festival!), a documentary about the Newport Folk Festival, which was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.


Festival! (1967 film poster).jpg

Theatrical release poster with Joan Baez

Shot over the course of three festivals at Newport (1963-1965), the docu features performances by all the major figures in American music at the time.

Festival features the voices of Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Spider John Koerner, Theodore Bikel, Hobart Smith, the Osborne Brothers, The Staple Singers, Mimi and Richard Fariña, Donovan, Sacred Harp Singers, Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mike Bloomfield, Ronnie Gilbert, Moving Star Hall Singers, Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers, and many others.

It also features the Bob Dylan’s 1965 electric set at Newport.

Oscar Context

Festival was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, but did not win.


Produced, written, directed by Murray Lerner
Cinematography Murray Lerner, Stanley Meredith, Francis Grumman, George Pickow
Edited by Howard Alk
Production company Patchke Productions
Distributed by Peppercorn-Wormser
Release date December 5, 1967
Running time 97 minutes


TCM showed this docu on Sep 7, 2020.

Films directed by Murray Lerner

Secrets of the Reef (1956)

Festival (1967)

From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1980), winner of Best Documentary Oscar

Magic Journeys (1982)

Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who (2007)

The Other Side of the Mirror (2007)