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May 1998, Week 3


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Wanda Bershen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 16 May 1998 11:42:23 -0400
text/plain (114 lines)
 Many thanks to Milestone for clarifying (revealing) the hardly surprising
machinations behind the AFI 100 Best American Movies List.  One assumed
there was some criteria for selection -- but $5000. to $15,000.??
As a small independent  distributor/exhibitor in the same ideological boat
with Milestone, International Film Circuit, Zeigeist, Turbulent Arts, to
name just a few -- it certainly is disturbing to see all that money going to
promote the same old films, instead of working to expand availability of
indie- type films ( like the history of other countries national film
culture) from all over the world.
Doesn't AFI still get substantial funding from what left of the NEA??  Is
that going into the 100 Best also?? What happened to American indie film
support -- including the pioneers like Deren, Shirley Clarke, Ron Rice, the
Mekases,et al??
Dennis D. is right on about the issue being  politics of comercialism versus
the promotion of knowledge. And so is Jessica R ( as someone who had  a few
radical school years also)  -- so is there anything we can do (those
interested in the promotion of knowledge)  ensemble??  It certainly isn't
the 70's anymore, but maybe there are some constructive counter-actions??
Thank you Dennis and Jessica for airing this pubicly -- the post was
Wanda Bershen
At 09:20 PM 5/13/98 EDT, you wrote:
>In a response to this email on the AMIA list, my friend at Kino, Jessica
>Rosner (and I'm paraphrasing her, so please forgive me my inaccuracies of her
>own beliefs) called this announcement crap and disgusting and suggested that
>the AFI is prostituting itself. I include my response on the AMIA list as well
>since I think this is an excellent topic of discussion on the politics of
>commercialism versus the promotion of knowledge. Of course, as a distributor
>on the outside, I find it very disturbing in what the AFI 100 means. So here
>I usually find Jessica Rosner is more "passionate" than I about current
>issues. It comes from her radical school days. All I can say is
>"Go get them! Go, Girl, Go!!!"
>In retrospect, however, saying that AFI is prostituting themselves is
>inaccurate. Perhaps on consideration, Jessica would agree that the poor films
>have found themselves to be the prostitutes, the studios are the Johns paying
>for the service, and AFI is more accurately, the pimp. What CBS is would
>almost a theological question which I can forgo.
>The AFI 100 movie list is a commercially PAID (supposedly $5,000 to $15,000
>per film from what I hear) endorsement of studio films to promote their video
>sales. Of the 400 films, I roughly count nine films that are public domain or
>independently owned. The AFI is representing Hollywood's interests, not the
>public. I don't worry about what the online public votes for (it's kind of
>fun) or who will be "the 100." I question how the films were chosen and for
>what purpose. It  definitely brings to question AFI's motive, their self-
>acclaimed role as champion of American film, and more importantly and far more
>seriously, their non-profit status. I would compare this to a similar case
>this year with the AMA and "approved" products in terms of ethics.
>A much smaller concern, but still it exists. I'd like to question how the
>voters were picked? And just what percentage among the "industry" was chosen?
>>From their own press release:
><<The American Film Institute (AFI), in conjunction with an unprecedented
>coalition of the home video divisions of 13 film studios, today
>announced an extraordinary multi-million dollar video promotion to
>support its historic 100 Years...100 Movies celebration. This is the
>first time in the history of the home video industry that the major
>studios have joined together for a joint marketing effort.>>
>In other words, only the rich get to join.
><<The videos will be released for sale and rental in stores immediately
>following the June 16 CBS broadcast.>>
>What if one of the public domain films wins? Anyone distributing The Birth of
>a Nation is not a bootlegger. They are a legitimate distributor with just as
>much right to distribute this film as Universal does Vertigo. It shouldn't
>even matter the quality of transfer since the film is owned by the public and
>the AFI is a public-supported entity. By the way, this is from a distributor
>whose claim to Poor Little Rich Girl is a good as anybody's considering our
>license from the Mary Pickford Foundation.
>It's hard enough to fight the blockbuster mentality of the American public,
>but to have the AFI champion it is, in Jessica's words, disgusting. As an
>independent distributor who is devoted to bring out the unique and the
>special, it's just another nail in the coffin in any attempt to educate a
>growingly uninterested public. This, by the way, IS representative of
>Milestone's feelings and beliefs.
>Dennis Doros
>Milestone Film & Video
>PS. Who did choose the 400? If it wasn't fixed, I suspect a poll was done at a
>shopping mall in Encino.
>PSS. Richard III?  Oy!
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