Before the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival launches in New York next week, fans of activist video can catch the 6th Media That Matters Film Festival, which kicks off online to the public today and at the IFC Center tonight at 7pm. Film Your Issue, another activist media program -- targeted at youth projects -- also has its nominees online here (I like the one about Capital Punishment Inc.)
In between the well-meaning youth-produced documentaries in Media that Matters (one may be the next Michael Moore), there are a few professionally-made gems that stand out in the 16-film selection: Liz Miller's "Water Warriors" chronicles the privatization of water in a small Michigan town; Garance Burke and Monica Lam's "The Rules of the Game" follows a fascinating culture war between white rural Californians and the local Indian tribes-people who want to build a casino in their backyard (are the whites racist to protest it?); Vance Malone's "Permission" is an effective gay-and-lesbian PSA; Phil Caron's "(Hate) Machine" cleverly uses kids to get across the issue of media manipulation; and perhaps the best and most relevant to filmmakers out there, Jacob Caggiano's incisive and tragic "Eyes on the Fair Use of the Prize," examines the extinction of several important documentaries, such as 1987's Civil Rights doc "Eyes on the Prize" because of oppressively expensive clearance costs.
(For more on the subject, check out this recent New York Times story that looks at a pair of IFC documentary projects that employed fair use.)