Despite the admonition that "the revolution will not be televised," it's almost certain that the revolution -- or even a peaceful protest march -- will be videotaped. The ubiquitous nature of today's cameras combined with inexpensive and available technology to store and disseminate footage means any political event open to the public can be "covered" by the public.
And that's just great, say the members of the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center, a local cog of the global Indy Media network and a voluntary collective committed to covering events that mainstream news ignores and providing a counterbalance to what they perceive as an inherent bias in established media. To highlight this mission, Pittsburgh's IMC is hosting a four-day video festival featuring works from video documenters world-wide covering a decade's worth of activism.
The highlight of Friday night's "War and Empire" program will be the locally made The People, United, a 22-minute video diary of last January's anti-war demonstrations in Pittsburgh, shot by Quinten Steenhuis, Matt Toups and Patrick Turner. Bookended with footage from President Bush explaining why the U.S. must invade Iraq, the video captures the march along Carson Street and the next day's convergence in Oakland in a straightforward manner. Clergy, rappers, punkers, Steelers Fans Against the War, peaceniks, agitators, drum-bangers, military vets, police, mainstream media: They were all there, each a part of the larger spectacle, and presented here without comment -- for viewer participation. Just as the video activist must create his own document from events, so too must video spectators process the provided information and construct their own meanings.
7 p.m. Thu., Feb. 19
The "Historical Perspectives" program features Voices from the Front (1991), an award-winning documentary about AIDS activism, and World? What World? Keeping America Disinformed, the World According to U.S. Media (1987), a sampling of work on world politics and mainstream media from the Paper Tiger collective.
7 p.m. Fri., Feb. 20
Three videos comprise the "War and Empire" program: The People, United (2004); Kilometer Zero (2003), shot at WTO protests in Cancun, Mexico; and We Interrupt This Empire (2003), an account of last year's anti-war actions in San Francisco.
7 p.m. Sat., Feb. 21
This evening focuses on Free Trade Area of the Americas, with a sneak preview of a documentary compiled from footage shot at the FTAA protest in Miami last fall; a short film by Roger Hill, Fascists are Trading Away America; and a discussion panel led by local indymedia members and activists who were part of the Stop FTAA mobilization.
2 p.m. Sun., Feb. 22
A matinee screening of Freedom Downtime (2002), a film about formerly imprisoned computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, and the activists who worked to free him.
7 p.m. Sun., Feb. 22
A screening of Critical Resistance: Visions of Freedom (1999), about the growing movement against the prison-industrial complex, is followed by shorts from local activists, including footage from last year's pro-public transit rallies.