Monday, July 23, 2007

Film Supporters

Last year when we began talking about launching Filmies, we did so for two reasons. We figured there was a group of film buffs out there that would be interested in getting together regularly, and we figured film was a good way for people to learn about the cultures in and around Fort Worth’s seven international Sister Cities.
I was reading some articles last week on Reuters and the BBC online and it made me think maybe there’s another more important reason we should support the Filmies group and film in general.
Film is an incredible vehicle for freedom of speech and perhaps an even more important spark for debate and discussion.
Reuters reported Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, launched its second film festival. That might be hum drum news in many places. But in Saudi Arabia there are no operating movie theaters due to governmental and religious restrictions. In fact at the festival launch announcement the Jeddah mayor carefully referred to it as the “Festival of Visual Art,” because a “film festival” sounds too risqué.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that South Africa’s broadcasting entity, SABC, is attempting to block broadcast of a documentary that apparently reflects the South African president in a bad light. SABC is using copyright law as the foundation for the injunction, but critics say it’s because the broadcaster is soft on the administration.
We in the United States are much more used to freedom of speech. That’s not to say there can’t be abuses and rampant propaganda distributed. Many people dislike Michael Moore and view his films, such as “Sicko,” as nothing more than liberal propaganda. It has, however, caused the media and average people to talk about the state of healthcare and insurance in the United States.
Aside from being entertaining, film can be life changing and affirming.
And without the ability to view, educate, learn and discuss, how can we gain other viewpoints and understand other cultures. How can we become better citizens, leaders, families and friends?
How can we become better people?