Here Come the Videofreex

Mar 13 - Mar 16, 2016

(Jon Nealon, Jenny Raskin, United States, 2015, 79 min)

Seattle premiere! Introduction by Robin Oppenheimer on 3/13!

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when new media technology wasn’t immediately branded for mass consumption. In 1969, a pair of proto-documentarians stumbled upon a new invention: security cameras. Pop off the mount, and there you go: portability, playback, and a storytelling device that even broke hippies can afford.

Enter the Videofreex. A NY video co-op conceived at Woodstock, which would go on to promote video for the people, by the people, generations before the advent of social media as we know it.

This documentary by Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin draws heavily on original Videofreex footage from the late 60s and early 70s, as the co-op intimately records a country wracked by change. They interview Fred Hampton weeks before his assassination, march with Women’s Lib rallies, even document their own clubbing, arrest, and incarceration by DC riot police. The revolution is palpable in every interview, present at every demonstration and counter-demonstration: a foggy vision seen through billowing teargas. The shadows of Vietnam and The Draft and the surreality of Nixon inspire a sort of insanity, captured by the Videofreex’s handheld cameras and raw interviews.

The co-op doesn’t stop there, and the documentary follows them into upstate NY, to the creation of the world’s first pirate TV channel. The prolific Videofreex, with their blend of creative expression, home video, and documentary, not only presaged an era where every person is a filmmaker, they showed how to use that technology to build a more generous community. Much more than rebels, these artists simply embodied an idyllic youth: overwhelmed by their own creative energies and the heady potential of their times.

“Here Come the Videofreex should become mandatory viewing in journalism schools…the film delivers an illuminating and moving portrait of these largely unknown, intrepid renegade journalists who were the forerunners of both public access television and the contemporary freelance reporting that has become the bedrock of countless news outlets.”    –Hollywood Reporter

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