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The 2004 Media that Matters Film Festival

In an age of creeping corporate consolidation and growing distrust of media, democratization seems like a good idea. If the objectivity of journalists and the agendas of editors and network suits aren’t yet sufficiently in doubt, what else can explain the new wave of amateurs firing up their blogs and digital camcorders?

MediaRights, a New York-based non-profit, has been touring its Media that Matters Film Festival to inspire people to take action and make movies. The 16 included lo-fi shorts range from two to eight minutes, and from important-but-dull to mundane-yet-fascinating.

Highlights include:

· The Meatrix, a Flash video originally produced for the web that uses a popular sci-fi film series to illustrate the horrors of factory farming.

· The Children of Birmingham, an inspiring re-telling of the story of the civil rights movement, as crudely animated by middle schoolers.

· The 6th Section, a marvelous documentary about a group of Mexican illegals in upstate New York who send cash across the border to improve their communities back home.

· Struggling to Survive, a made-by-teenagers testimonial about the trials of the working poor in eastern Kentucky.

Those looking for a ‘fair and balanced’ alternative will be disappointed. The shorts are all sympathetic to the poor, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized, and Ann Coulter is nowhere to be found for a rebuttal.

Overall, some pieces in the ‘festival’ succeed, and others fail miserably (especially when they try to get a little too MTV). While Media that Matters may not be the sharp kick in the groin that corporate media needs, it’s good to know that someone out there is encouraging the youth of eastern Kentucky to impart their under-told stories.

The whole thing:

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