The Media That Matters Festival, celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2010, premiered its program of 12 short documentary films on June 2, with simultaneous screenings at New York City's School of Visual Arts Theater and at Minneapolis' St. Anthony Main Theater, and with continued online streaming of the program and post-premiere Q&A, with filmmakers in New York responding to inquiries posed by New York and Minneapolis audiences via Ustream.tv. The program is also accessible in its entirely at the Media That Matters Festival Website.
The Media That Matters Festival is run by Arts Engine, the highly regarded New York-based nonprofit that produces, supports and distributes social-issue documentaries, with the intention of focusing public awareness on topics of current concern and the mission to drive change by connecting media, technology and community.
The Media That Matters Festival is international in scope and diverse in subject matter. Of more than 500 submitted films, the 12 that were selected for the program covered such varied issues as gender identification, racial tensions along the border between Haiti and Santo Domingo, unlawful detainment at Guantanamo, police brutality, the failing health care system, the toils and trials of day laborers in the U.S., homelessness in Great Britain and the life, times and legacy of an aging garment district entrepreneur.
The filmmakers are young -- Annalise Littman, for example, produced and directed her film, Aquafinito, tackling issues arising from privatization of fresh water, when she was a junior in high school. And, they're already developing their unique voices and styles -- for example, Yan Chun Su takes us on an un-narrated cinematic tour of The Last Town in her brooding film about the 2000-year-old city that will disappear under water when China's Three Gorges Dam is constructed, while Gus Andrews uses two amusing puppets to deliver deliver insights about how the media manipulates images to create unattainable standards of beauty in My Hotness is Pasted on Yey!.
To gauge how talented these young filmmakers are, compare their films to those made by seasoned documentarians about similar issues -- for example, you might want to compare The Last Town with Up the Yangtze, and see how America The Beautiful and American Teen treat the subject of standards of beauty and self esteem. Then, too, there are some mighty powerful unlawful military detainment documentaries to watch -- including Taxi To The Dark Side, Standard Operating Procedure and Laura Poitras' soon-to-be-released The Oath -- in order to expand your understanding about how this pressing issue is presented in feature length documentaries.
How do you think they compare?
The filmmakers whose films are shown are given Flip cameras, and are encouraged to document their experiences at the Media That Matters Festival and post their footage on the Media That Matters YouTube Channel.
After its New York and Minneapolis twin premieres, the Media That Matters Festival spends the month of June taking its show on the road, playing London on June 4, Denver on June 12, Miami on June 16, San Francisco on June 18, Washington DC on June 22, Santa Fe (NM) on June 26, Evanston (IL) on June 26 and Portland (OR) on June 29.
The screenings are open to the public. Check local listings for location, time and admission fee.
(IMAGE: Media That Matters Poster Art. Courtesy of Arts Engine).