From the Executive Director
“Film is a critical piece of our journey to justice.” — Elizabeth Alexander
Since the election, it seems like we’ve all been searching for insight and inspiration in the face of an uncertain future. We’re reaching out for each other, gathering together, like we do after funerals or natural disasters. I’ve witnessed our collective struggle to regroup, reorganize, and reimagine. If you need some love, some solidarity, some ideas for coping and taking action, we have a new section of our website (powered by Tumblr), Artists Speak Out: On The Future of Democracy. Check it out, tend to your spirit, tap your radical optimism and light the way forward. And please add your voice: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because now is a time for both contemplation and action, you can count on this Alliance to hold space for artists and organizations to come together, talk, plan, advocate, create, and connect across the boundaries that might work to keep us apart. We are moving forward with plans for 2017 that include regional HatchLabs, Youth Media Collective Action, global VR/Culture Days, Future of Storytelling Video Roundtables, and our Creative Leadership Lab at Sundance. In addition, we are launching a new Ventures program for the development and release of new media apps and tools, and are spearheading a national Creative Workforce Development Initiative. We will share progress on these programs in the coming weeks, and invite all individuals and organizations to join, get involved, and build with us.
Speaking of joining NAMAC—we have a piece of news to share on that front. We are changing up the nature of NAMAC membership. Beginning in December, we will move to a pay-what-you-can-afford membership structure—you will be able to join the organization and pay any amount from $1 to $1,000,000. As we look at the political reality staring us in the face, we want NAMAC to be ready to represent the broadest and most inclusive media arts + culture community possible, to speak truth to power, to advocate for federal & state arts funding, freedom of expression, net neutrality, safety and security, equity and social justice. The more individual members and member organizations we have on the “official” roster, the stronger our collective voice.
We will send out a special eBulletin soon to let everyone know that the new Membership page is live. All Membership fees will go into the Media Legacy Freedom Fund, supporting innovative + inclusive field-building, strengthening the network of support for artists and journalists working in vulnerable communities, and protecting freedom of expression.
Hope everyone enjoys a creative, loving and restful holiday.
Notes from the Field
Counter Narrative Project To Host Moonlight Discussion
Next Tuesday, November 29th, NAMAC member Counter Narrative Project will host a discussion in Atlanta about Barry Jenkins’ 2016 film Moonlight, which has met with acclaim for its understated depiction of black gay masculinities.
Inspiring Youth Media of 2016, Curated by NAMAC
NAMAC’s Consulting Producer for Youth Engagement Myah Overstreetassembled an awesome collection of youth-produced media from around the country for “Let Us Cover the World in Gold: Youth Voices Rise Up 2016,” which went live earlier this month.
Video Data Bank Celebrates 40th Anniversary
2016 marks the 40th anniversary of NAMAC member Video Data Bank, and the Chicago archive is celebrating with Decades, a new program on its (free-to-watch) VDB TV streaming platform that “casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form.”
Creative Capital Documents 2016 Artists’ Works in Progress
NAMAC member Creative Capital took its 2016 artists on a four-day retreat to EMPAC, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where it filmed them as they shared presentations, stories, and performances—the videos are available here.
Is there something you’d like to publicize via NAMAC’s eBulletin? Fill out our eBulletin submission form.
Media Policy Watch
By Rose Kaplan
The U.S. presidential election has dominated the news cycle the for the past few weeks, and for good reason. As we wrote last month, new President-Elect Donald Trump had few public campaign positions on media policy, net neutrality, or technology. He came out against the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger; he called for Apple to manufacture its products domestically (which has already had an effect on the company’s future plans); he spoke disparagingly of net neutrality, although not in specific terms, erroneously comparing it to the FCC’s 20th-century Fairness Doctrine. But what might a Trump presidency really bring to the realms of media policy, technology, and the internet?
As Vice Motherboard’s Sam Gustin writes, Trump’s victory has already effectively ended the work of the Obama FCC, taking cable “set-top box” reform, potential price caps for communications networks serving hospitals, libraries, and schools, and expanded availability of “video-described” programming for blind and visually impaired people off the table. Gustin also outlines how Trump could destroy net neutrality, naming Republican FCC commissioner and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai as one of Trump’s possible picks to succeed Wheeler as chairman.
Trump’s victory has already effectively ended the work of the Obama FCC, taking cable “set-top box” reform, potential price caps for communications networks serving hospitals, libraries, and schools, and expanded availability of “video-described” programming for blind and visually impaired people off the table.
Rightly or not, many Americans seem to be expecting greater surveillance under the Trump administration: the encrypted chat app Signal has seen a huge and unprecedented spike in downloads since the election, reports the Los Angeles Times‘ Paresh Dave. Along similar lines, The Intercept’s Micah Lee outlines a few surveillance self-defense tips against the future Trump administration.
However, many other stories were buried in the wake of the election coverage, including the convergence of filmmaking, technology, and indigenous land defense at the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. One worrying story, published mid-October, details the heavy charges against documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, who was arrested while covering the protests and now faces three felony charges carrying carrying a maximum sentence 45 years in prison—a longer sentence, for reference, than that of Chelsea Manning, who leaked sensitive military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Meanwhile, some in Standing Rock are worried about future government seizures of its independent tribal telecom company, Standing Rock Telecom, as Vice Motherboard’s Paul Spencer explains in detail.
There hasn’t been much new information on the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger since the election, beyond speculation about whether Trump might or might not follow through on his campaign promise to block the deal, but The Wall Street Journal did publish an enlightening story last week explaining the significance of Trump’s response to the deal, whatever it may be.
Other stories of note:
- • Wired’s Andy Greenberg on a new exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allows users to legally hack their own devices
- • The EFF’s Gennie Gebhart on the difficult choices faced by rural schools looking to adopt educational technology without compromising students’ privacy
- • Vice Motherboard’s Jason Koebler on the rise of community broadband networks