Thursday, August 07, 2008

Democracy Now! | NYPD Officer Caught on Tape Body-Slamming Cyclist During Critical Mass Ride

Democracy Now! | NYPD Officer Caught on Tape Body-Slamming Cyclist During Critical Mass Ride

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And initially, the biker was arrested and charged, is that correct?

EILEEN CLANCY: He was arrested and charged with assaulting the police officer, which is a very serious charge. So he had two misdemeanor charges, I think, and a lower charge. And the police officer made a statement that he’d been basically run into, deliberately run into, by the bicyclist. And I think you can see from the video that the bicyclist is veering away from the police officer, who’s pursuing this fellow.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And the officer claimed initially that the biker was veering in and out of traffic and aimed for him, is that what he said?

EILEEN CLANCY: That’s what the police affidavit says, so that’s what was sworn to by the police officer under a penalty of perjury, which in this case would be a felony.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And in fact, there’s no cars in the video.

EILEEN CLANCY: And that’s what we used the [2004] Republican convention for in New York. We were able to find out that the police were using agents provacateurs. We were able to find out—we were very surprised—that the district attorney’s office was faking video evidence, police video evidence. And we were able to show that the police officers lied in many instances. So, we don’t know what’s going to happen in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, but, you know, we’re going be there to cover it, and we’ll be hoping that people share their videotapes with us. And if you would like to help us, please send a contribution in through the website.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And what do you mean, faking video evidence?

EILEEN CLANCY: Well, what happened in the 2004 demonstrations is, in one instance, I discovered that there were two different copies of the same police videotape, and the district attorney had given a defense attorney a copy of a police tape for use at a trial and said, “This is our evidence against you. This is our video evidence against you.” And I found a copy of the police tape with a lot more video, and it then was handed over as evidence. And it turned out that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had removed two sections—and that would have to be deliberate; you can’t do this by mistake—two entire sections of several minutes, the sections that showed that the man who had these charges, Alexander Dunlop, was innocent of the charges. And it was extraordinary. And when that was discovered, the district attorney immediately dropped all the charges.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jesse Lerner's Aesthetic and Cultural Hybrids | GreenCine

Jesse Lerner's Aesthetic and Cultural Hybrids | GreenCine

I think the collage aesthetic, with the rough edges still showing, encourages us as viewers to engage critically with the material we're watching, rather than simply letting the visual or narrative pleasures wash us away. It's a bit like what Brecht called the "alienation effect."

But when you're dealing with information that's culturally specific, or that is common knowledge in one context and much less so in another, how do you make sure everyone else is following along, regardless of their background? That's something I'm always struggling with. If I can provide the background information to those who need it, and use the opportunity to provide the other part of the audience with a laugh, then that's the best the solution.

Do the various accents of your speakers in The American Egypt reflect the home region of the person who actually said those words? Interesting touch.

Yes, that was what I was trying for. The Yucatecan Spanish is very distinctive. I don't know how to describe it, but I can imitate it (though perhaps not very convincingly). It's an accent that's disappearing slowly, mostly because of the mass media. So the Yucatecan voices I recorded there with people who spoke that way. And the same thing with the English-language parts, though of course it's highly speculative, as these are for the most part people who left no recordings of their voices.

For Mexican intellectuals in the aftermath of the Revolution, the Indian was the central problem. For centuries they had looked down on the Indian, but the Revolution had changed everything, and cast the Indian in the role of protagonists, as active agents of historical change. After the Revolution, the question remained: if Mexico was going to become a modern country, what role would the Indian play? The existing models of modernity were all Western nations. Could one imagine a country that was both Indian and modern? How might that be different from the modernity of Western Europe or the US?

I don't especially like the idea of your films being called "fake" documentaries, as all docs are fake in some ways. Yours get at the truth via a different route, that's all. Or maybe this "fake" thing bothers me more than it bothers you.

Well, I explore this sub-genre in much greater depth in my book (with Alexandra Juhasz) F is for Phony. While we argue that most "fake docs" are fiction films (with a script, actors, etc.) that present themselves as if they were documentaries, Ruins functions differently. On one hand, it's a documentary about fakes, so it's a fake documentary in the way that a baseball documentary is a documentary about baseball. And while most of the archival footage that I incorporated into the film is in fact that - archival - there were moments when I couldn't find the archival material I needed to make a certain point, and I ended up shooting certain sequences myself, hand-processing the footage to get a certain distressed look, and incorporating this original material disguised as archival images alongside real historical footage. It's a lot like the practice of the forger of archaeological artifacts, who has to add a patina of antiquity to the objects in order to pass them off as authentic. Again, with the sound, I ran certain original audio elements through filters in ProTools in order to get the hiss of an old optical track. It's at that point that I started to identify with Brigido Lara, the forger at the center of my film, and began to explore the parallels between forging and documentary filmmaking.

Monday, August 04, 2008

U B U W E B - Film & Video: Guy Ben-Ner - Berkeley's Island

U B U W E B - Film & Video: Guy Ben-Ner - Berkeley's Island

wow. fantasy island, dick tricks, and pathos.

The Transom Review: Errol Morris's Topic

The Transom Review: Errol Morris's Topic

"My belief that believing is seeing and not the other way around. If there's enough pressure, if there's enough reason to believe something, then people will believe it, no matter what the underlying truth might be, no matter what the evidence against their believing it might be."
--Errol Morris

"THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STRAIGHT INTERVIEW. (Although I would admit there are good and bad interviews.)

Interviews are human relationships in a "laboratory" setting. They allow us to scrutinize the nature of how one person relates to another and vice versa... As such, all the things that are common features of the "ordinary" relationships appear in the interviews - deceit, coyness, misdirection, sincerity, honesty, dishonesty, confusion, etc.

In some instances - I dare say - there is the powerful impulse to protect a subject from himself or to show him in the best possible light. I have a lot of these kinds of impulses. I actually like people to look good, and I attempt - even if I don't succeed - to capture their complexity in the interview and in the film I eventually produce.

But let me provide a couple of definitions of a good interview.




Sometimes it is a matter of "discretion," sometimes it is "let the best man win..." But, it's usually a lot more complex than that."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Beginnings... Unbidden Radio, by Jim Metzner

Beginnings... Unbidden Radio, by Jim Metzner

Although I've cringed when I listen back to the stiffness of the narration of my early programs, they were how I learned the craft of radio -- by the seat of my pants. I made lots of mistakes.

Like what? Well, like recording the reenactment of the battle of Lexington and Concord with my tape recorder's limiter on, reducing all that beautiful echoey musket fire into a series of pallid hand-claps. Like not using a good enough windscreen, and running out of batteries, and not bringing the proper cable, and on and on.

In the beginning, I had no models to emulate or imitate; it was all new. I had two minutes to do more or less what I wanted to, assuming it had something to do with greater Boston. I learned the power of a compelling question. I learned that sounds can take you to places where words can't go. I learned that a tape recorder and microphone were magic keys that could open doors and memories. That an "interview" could be something more than just a gathering of information. That the well of sounds is bottomless, and you can return to drink from it at any time and there would be something new. I learned to respect the recordings, the sounds, the words -- and regard them as gifts, gifts that needed to be honored and shared.

Perhaps the best advice I could give you about beginning is that the first impulse and exultation of it will only take you so far, so choose your path and your subject matter accordingly. If you've found something that you love to do, that love will likely sustain you through the periods of drought and resistance.

The next best advice would be to find your own voice, your own way of listening, your own particular way of telling a story. The rest is practice, perseverence, and being free enough to learn from what may seem like a mistake.