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40 Years of Radical Media


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[This is an abridged version of the original document. For information on how to obtain the original version, please contact TWN.]

On Radical Newsreel

Jonas Mekas

December 22 will go into the history books of cinema. Some thirty filmmakers—cameramen, editors, soundmen, directors— gathered at the Film-Makers' Cinematheque and created a radical film newsreel service. The same day a very significant coincidence occurred: On our way home, in the evening papers, we read the headline—“Universal Newsreel Service Closes.”

The new Newsreel service is still in organizational stages, it needs money very badly, but the first newsreels should be out sometime this week. Not even the name of the service is fixed as yet, proposals going from the Guerrilla Newsreel to the Radical Newsreel to just simply the Newsreel. But whatever the name, the time is really ripe for it. What will the new Newsreel do? I will quote here some of the half-official announcements:

The Newsreel is a radical news service whose purpose is to provide an alternative to the limited and biased coverage of television news. The news that we feel is significant—any event that suggests the changes and redefinitions taking place in America today, or that underlines the necessity for such changes—has been consistently undermined and suppressed by the media. Therefore we have formed an organization to serve the needs of people who want to get hold of news that is relevant to their own activity and thought.

The Newsreel films will reflect the viewpoints of its members, but will be aimed at those we consider our primary audiences: all people working for change, students, organizations in ghettos and other depressed areas, and anyone who is not and cannot be satisfied by the news film available through establishment channels.

Films made by the Newsreel are not to be seen once and forgotten. Once a print goes out, it becomes a tool to be used by others in their own work, to serve as a basis for their own definition and analysis of the society. We shall also encourage the formation of similar newsreel groups in other parts of the country, so that there can be a continual interchange of news films, whereby people in Oakland can see what happens in New York and vice versa.>

Films may be obtained from the Newsreel in the following ways: 1. Free of charge to community organizing groups that cannot afford to pay for prints; 2. On a regular subscription basis to film clubs, national organizations theatres, etc., who will pay for the cost of prints plus handling charges; 3. By renting back prints of the Newsreel in a package; 4. By renting whatever foreign or other documentary films we have compiled.

 

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