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Tuesday, Jun 2, 2009, 4:01 pm

Media That Matters: The Free Online Film Festival

By Jeremy Gantz

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We here at In These Times like media to be independent and nonprofit because, well, we fall into that category ourselves. But that doesn't mean we fetishize print: There are plenty of new web-based news orgs doing great work with video/multimedia, from GRITtv (celebrating its 1st birthday this month) to FLYP magazine to the Real News Network (whose name still makes me cringe, but hey, they have great coverage of our still collapsing economy).

Add the Media That Matters Film Festival to that list. The online, nonprofit festival, now in its ninth year, focuses on short films dedicated to casting light on topics that too often remain in the dark. Topics that this year will include "the impact of gun violence on young people, an immigrant family torn apart by deportation, the burden imposed on Bolivia by America's war on drugs, and Middle Easterners whose diverse outlooks defy common stereotypes," according to the press release announcing this year's line-up, which will be available for viewing on Thursday.

The 12 new films, none longer than 12 minutes, will all premier tomorrow night at a sold-out event in Manhattan. The festival's winner, Next Wave, profiles the world’s first climate change refugees. Here's the clever and classy little teaser preview for the whole festival:



“The Media That Matter Film Festival aims to not only entertain, but to also motivate audiences to learn more and get involved,” said Katy Chevigny, co-founder and executive director of Arts Engine. “All of the films explore difficult and challenging topics in ways that will surprise.” Each short film is paired with “Take Action” tools to encourage viewers to become activists. (In These Times just began a similar initiative to help readers take a step beyond the last paragraph of our articles. Each issue's features and news articles are now nearly always followed, below the heading "Get Involved," by a short list of relevant organizations working for change.)

Be sure to visit to attend this year's Media That Matter festival beginning Thursday. In the meantime, check out the festival archives. Education and entertainment rarely overlap so nicely.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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