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The l960's are remembered as the age of activism - a period of tumultuous upheaval in the US. During those years a small band of film makers created a body of independent work that helped define and explain the times.

They were not journalists in the conventional mechanistic sense - but advocates and activists who used the medium of film to bring the voices and the issues of their times to public attention. They saw film as a weapon to put at the service of movements and struggles although many of their productions were high quality and artistic.

They called themselves NEWSREEL

Working in decentralized film collectives in several cities, they produced many, many films, mostly shot on l6 mm. Most were in black and white, as gritty and realistic as the subjects they depicted. These were films of civil rights and civil wrongs, of uprisings in communities and on campuses, about the Vietnam War and the war at home against it. They are in some cases angry films, as alienated from the forms of traditional newscasts as anything that has been produced in our country. Some of the films were produced in the spirit of similar work underway in Cuba and Vietnam. Some were American originals - bringing the voices of change and changemakers to the social movements of the era. These films were revolutionary in spirit and commitment.

These are films that deserve to be seen and learned from. They are part of a dissenting tradition of American film-making. They are also a record of the emotions that made the 60's what they were. Some were agit-prop. Some captured important moments of history. Most were populist in spirit - while others were more intellectual but not in the sense of the "intellectual property" everyone talks about today. These film makers did not seek individual credit or promote themselves as Hollywood wanabees - although some did end up making commercial films. They preferred anonymity and a democratic approach to film making that may seem naive in world where production is characterized by craft unions and a star system.


Image of Kathleen Cleaver speaking at Black Panther Rally - 1969 by Roz Payne a member of NewsReel network: http://www.newsreel.us

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