Just took an email query from Sarah Stirland of the National Journal about Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain Moving Image Contest. Sarah asked what struck me in particular about the winners.
One interesting thing to me is that only one film really looked to the future. That is the future effects of the current laws or to an imagined future. That film was from Poland! (actually a cartoon) “Music for our Grandchildren”
More often film-makers looked back either in humor as in “Stealing Home” or as documentarians speaking about the extreme difficulty of practicing their craft. “Powerful Pictures” and “Army One by One” Then they were speaking only of the current state of the law and how it has an impact on them as individuals.
This tells me that the story of the documentarians is real and immediate. We’ve been digitizing a lot of folkloric documentaries for our Folkstreams.net project and had to wonder if such films made in the 60s and 70s could be made again in the current legal climate. The answer as “Powerful Pictures” and “Army One by One” tell us is not without great difficulty if at all. Will all documentarians have to become lawyers?
One other perhaps obvious note. All the winners were in black and white. But these days with digital editing and cameras it’s just as cheap to do color as to do black and white. I am still wondering what that means, but I suspect that it has to do with feeling the past is more compelling, more authentic and perhaps more free (to use images from at any rate). It could also mean an unhealthy avoidance of the future.
For my earlier post on the contest results, see http://ibiblio.org/pjones/wordpress/index.php?p=223