Friday, June 22, 2007

Digital Media Conference in MD shows Greenwald short films and other docs


The Digital Media Conference at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD today featured filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who has recently helped produce a number of short films on social and political issues in order to assist with political activism. His new group is called Brave New Films.

Two of these films were shown today during the conference. It certainly seems that a few of these short films should also have been screened in the AFI Silverdocs documentary festival the preceding weekend at the AFI Silver (look for blog entries June 13-19 on this blog).

Fox Attacks Black America featured some bites from Fox programming as well as commentary showing that the Fox network apparently, in the views of many people, makes hidden slurs at African Americans. One commentator claimed that white people need to “make more babies.”

Mission Accomplished was motivated by President George W. Bush ‘s appearance on an aircraft carrier around May 1, 2003, when supposedly Iraq had been “won” with the collapse of Saddam Hussein. History has, of course, shown that war in Iraq is anything but over. The film presents the suggestion that all United States flags be flown at half mast for one day on any day at least one servicemember is lost in Iraq or any other combat operation.

Greenwald said that his paradigm is to network with other organizations that will organize political petitions, as well as help with “viral” screenings of the films, through P2P, home theater or church showings, and other grassroots presentations.

Greenwald mentioned his participation in the Gay Arabic Linguists film (on this blog, June 18). I asked a question from the audience microphone if he was aware of the Dream Out Loud films project on “don’t ask don’t tell”, and he answered that he was not aware of it.

A later panel presentation, “What’s next for Web 2.0?” included two short films, one a rendition of “Second Life” (website) and another early 1994 presentation of “Promise of the Internet” compared the coming web to the growth of printing and newspapers late in the 19th Century. In 1850, the speaker said, the typical family had one hand-me-down Bible, and there were 250 daily newspapers. By 1900 there were 2600 newspapers, and the country store was like a “network neighborhood.” But remember that before and during the American revolution pamphlets had been critical in spreading ideas (taxation without representation, etc.)

The panel on Internet Video included director Nick Panagopulos, CEO if Brainbox (a Silver Spring MD film and video production company), and from the mike I complimented him on his film “Five Lines” (2001, with a showing at the AFI Silver in 2004; my review (look in middle of file). In networking afterwards, I mentioned to another Brainbox employee that one of the subplots of that film had involved homophobia in the military (a gay bashing by a soldier at the Iwo Jima Memorial, contributing to the riveting film’s tragic conclusion).

On “don’t ask don’t tell” it seems filmmakers could network more. I hope to help them do that!

In the opening panel, “5 Digital Media Trends to Watch,” three of the five panelists said that their favorite website was imdb.com. (Sorry, not doaskdotell.com).

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