Sunday, May 28, 2006


I just discovered this blog but have known Agnes for several years as one of the people responsible for getting the Center for Social Media up and running. She's still around but seems to be pretty busy with other projects so we haven't seen much of her lately. Anyway she's been blogging since March 2006 and focuses on the American indepedent documentary film industry, more or less.


Silver Docs line-up of festival films announced

Tickets are not only on sale now but some are reportedly close to selling out. Silver Docs as noted in an earlier entry runs June 13-18 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD. Easily reachable from the AU campus via Metro's Red Line. It's just up Colesville Rd. from the Silver Spring stop.


Monday, May 22, 2006

PBS's documentary series POV commences its 19th season June 27th with No More Tears Sister

This year's series of films runs every week on Tuesday nights from June 27 to October 3. In Washington, DC it airs on WETA at 10pm. There are sixteen titles in all that will be aired this summer.

Note to educators: P.O.V. documentaries can be taped off-the-air and used for educational purposes for up to one year from the initial broadcast.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Congress schedules hearing on Smithsonian - Showtime deal

press release -
Media Advisory: Ehlers schedules hearing on Smithsonian Institution Business Ventures
WASHINGTON – Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., announced today that the Committee on House Administration will conduct a hearing on the operations and investments of Smithsonian Business Ventures, including Smithsonian on Demand, at 12 noon, Thursday, May 25, 2006, in room 1310 of the Longworth House Office Building.
With the growing concerns surrounding Smithsonian on Demand, the Smithsonian Business Ventures’ announced partnership to create and distribute Smithsonian-related programming with CBS/Showtime Networks, Inc., the Committee will call upon experts from the Smithsonian to provide insight on the potential risks involved with curtailing access and use of the Smithsonian collections to filmmakers, rival networks, journalists and scholars. The hearing will also include testimony regarding the overall financial and operational strategy behind Smithsonian Business Ventures.

Hearing on Thursday, May 25, 2006:
· WHAT: Smithsonian Institution Business Ventures Hearing
· WHO: Lawrence M. Small, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution
Alice Maroni, Chief Financial Officer, Smithsonian Institution
John Huerta, General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution
Gary M. Beer, Chief Executive Officer, Smithsonian Business Ventures
· TOPIC: Smithsonian Business Ventures Informational Briefing
· WHERE: 1310 Longworth House Office Building
· TIME: 12 noon

The hearing will be available via live webcast on the Committee website,
For more information, contact the Committee press office at (202) 225-8281.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Film Festival News: 4th Annual Silver Docs at AFI in Silver Spring

June 13-18. The keynote address at this year's festival will be given by Al Gore. The festival includes awards, screenings, workshops, and networking opportunities for documentary filmmakers. Among this year's gala events is an evening with Martin Scorsese (Thursday, June 15, 7pm) who will be joined by Robbie Robertson, the leader of The Band, the subject of Scorsese's documentary, The Last Waltz, for a screening of some of the director's documentary work and discussion of his career. AFI Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, MD.


FYI: Scorsese documentaries available in Media Services -
A personal journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies VHS 5554 Pts. 1-3
The Last Waltz VHS 5741
Italianamerican VHS 5062
My Voyage to Italy DVD 1023
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan DVD 1534

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Obit: Elma Gardner Farnsworth, 98, wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television

We all owe a great debt to Philo T. Farnsworth. He's known to many, but not most, as the true inventor of what became television. Married in 1926, Elma was at the side of Philo when he first tested the invention he had conceived seven years earlier while going back and forth plowing a field on a tractor at the age of 14. Farnsworth wondered if an image could be scanned onto a screen in a similar fashion.

Though he patented his invention, RCA took it uncredited and claimed the invention as one of theirs. Years later after drawn-out court cases Farnsworth eventually got the credit due him. Though by then the RCA myth had taken hold and his contribution went largely unrecognized. Philo T. Farnsworth died in 1971 but Elma continued to fight the good fight to ensure that his name not wind up in history's dustbin.

PBS produced an excellent profile of the inventor as part of its American Experience series, Big Dream, Small Screen (VHS 4472). Stop by Media Services and check it out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

From the screen to the streets - life imitates art: A day without a Mexican (DVD 1008)

From the ALADIN record -
"California awakens one day to discover that one third of its population has vanished. A peculiar pink fog surrounds the state and communication outside its boundaries has completely shut down. As the day progresses, it becomes apparent the sole characteristic linking the missing 14 million is their Hispanic heritage.

Based on "A day without a Mexican, a mockumentary" by Yarelli Arizmendi and Sergio Arau.

Special features: the making-of ’A day without a Mexican’; filmmaker commentary; music video "Frijoleros" by Molatov; outtakes; music video "Sin decir adios" by Los Yoguis; the original short that inspired the film; original theatrical trailers & TV spots."

DVD 1008 in Media Services

Must-see video: In the Realms of the Unreal

This documentary provides probably as much of the story of outsider artist Henry Darger as you are ever likely to learn. Darger was a recluse who avoided all but a few people during his relatively long life. Upon being admitted to a hospital late in life, his life's work, an enormous and truly unique trove of artwork and writings titled "In the Realms of the Unreal", was discovered in his apartment by a neighbor who had been aiding in his care. What was contained in his work, the complexity of it, and his extreme antisocialism are captured in this film.

Before seeing it, I was incredulous how the life of a man of whom so little was known could provide enough substance to carry a feature-length documentary. However filmmaker Jessica Yu's approach is utterly captivating, masterfully combining narration drawn from his writing, animated images from his paintings, and memories of the few people who knew him. The result is a remarkable tribute to a mad genius whose intense commitment to his art rivaled Van Gogh and whose reputation as an artist will surely continue to grow.

Available in Media Services. DVD 1308