Guest blogger Bart Weiss is the Artistic Director of VideoFest.
Tuesday night, the Video Association of Dallas held a works in progress screening of a film called Battle of Brooklyn by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky. The film is about a family trying to fight against a major developer in Brooklyn who is trying to build a sports arena. It seems like everyone: the city, the developer, and community groups are against the family. They all want the elusive jobs jobs jobs and will destroy anything to get them, even though those jobs may never come.
In this film, a filmmaker is battling against corporations and the government who the director believes are poisoning the water and air. Both are good films that are also devastating and depressing. In both cases, there is the sense of frustration that nothing can be done. All the mechanisms that are supposed to be in place to protect us have been corrupted and co-opted by the same corporate money that will now overtly be able to buy votes.
Lately I have been reading a lot about the Tea Party. While Tea Party members may not agree with the political perspectives of either of these filmmaker, they would clearly see these films as examples of government getting in the way. And they would be right.
In both cases, the issues are complex and deep. A three-minute segment on a cable news outlet would do well to feed rage and get people in a frantic state of fear. While these docs make us fearful about being powerless against big money, money that has turned the government blind to its noble and proper role, they give us a deeper perspective on the problems, so we know a bit more than to rant. And whine. These docs help make you think, not just react, and that is what good documentary films do.