Entry for October 07, 2005

Virginia Film Festival

Charlottesville 18th year this  October 27-30 has the theme IN/JUSTICE.  Hosted by the University of Virginia,  the festival will explore how films both promote the rule of law and challenge its flawed practice. In addition to dramas (Inherit the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, Anatomy of a Murder, The Ox-Bow Incident, Dirty Harry), there will be a large number of documentaries including The Untold Story of Emmet Till, Searching for Angela Shelton, Same Sex America,  and Sisters in Law, which investigate social injustices that are barely addressed by the mainstream media.

The festival will start with the premiere of actor and writer Wallace Shawn, whose 1991 dramatic monologue about how a well-to-do Westerner comes to terms with world poverty, exploitation and Karl Marx, was transposed into the 2004 HBO film The Fever.  Star Vanessa Redgrave and director Carlo Nero (her son-in-law) will attend.  The film also has appearances by Michael Moore as a reporter and Angelina Jolie as a revolutionary.

Of special interest in this time of the Iraq War is the re-release of Winter Soldier   which documents the Vietnam Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation of February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre. More than 125 veterans spoke of atrocities they had witnessed and committed.

“The major that I worked for had a fantastic capability of staking prisoners,” goes one piece of testimony, “utilizing a knife that was extremely sharp, and sort of fileting them like a fish. . . . Prisoners treated this way were executed at the end because there was no way that we could take them into any medical aide and say, ‘This dude fell down some steps.'”

Anthony Kaufman’s blog and  Villiage Voice article provide information on the distributor,  Millarium Zero, a new company founded by Milestone Films and Video execs Dennis Doros and Amy Heller to release politically-minded cinema.  Michael Atkinson also writes in the Voice about Winter Soldier and other Milestone films.  By the way, Milestone also is distributing the video The Troubles We’ve Seen: A History of Journalism in Wartime.  To reach Millarium Zero about sponsoring a showing of Winter Soldier, write P.O. Box 128, Harrington Park, N.J. 07640.  You can call 800-603-1104 or fax them at 201-767-3035 or email them at winterfilm@aol.com.

You may remember that Scott Swett co-opted the title for WinterSoldier.com, his 2004 attack on John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and others who opposed the Vietnam War, or as he would say, their “‘war crimes’ propaganda campaign that successfully undermined public support for America’s defense of South Vietnam.”  He was also the webmaster of the infamous SwiftVets.com, the site of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Lovers of documentaries will also enjoy the forum,  Fair Use and Free Speech: Who Owns Our Story? on October 29  which will explore the problem of copyright clearance that strangles documentary filmmakers’ freedom of expression.  The forum will be hosted by Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, of the Center for Social Media and the Project on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest at American University.

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