Thursday, May 15, 2008

Give us the money!

Community media should take notice of what is happening in the movie industry. Radical documentaries about war, consumerism and economics are now riding high in the charts. With the lack of vision in mainstream Television, it is likely that the British documentary filmmaker will emerge from within the network of community media.

While a man eats himself sick in the anti-junk food movie, Supersize Me, oversized film-maker Michael Moore leads the way against G.W Bush on the big screen. Fahrenheit 9/11 may have turned up the heat up on the White House, other (mostly American) filmmakers tackled the world’s more powerful institutions. The Yes Men hilariously exposes the World Trade Organisation while The Corporation puts the multinational on the couch to analyse its psychological profile. Being singularly self-interested, manipulative, irresponsible, lacking empathy and incapable of feeling any remorse or guilt, the verdict is clear: the Corporation must be a psychopath.

Ten years ago I co-founded Undercurrents, a British alternative media charity, to produce the sorts of films now arriving in our cinemas. Our mostly volunteer crew have trained hundreds of people to produce humorous but hard-hitting documentaries and shorts. So why is an international award winning organisation like undercurrents still struggling to survive? Despite winning awards in Japan, Canada, Germany, Britain and France, the financial support we receive is extremely limited. Nearly all the small grants we apply for come with the baggage of excessive paperwork. We can’t even find the funds to help supply our programmes to the network of local Tv (RSL’s). So where does the British film industry think the British version of Michael Moore will come from?

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