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SXSW: The Colors and Cultures of Documentaries

The Great InvisibleIs diversity an afterthought in film fest programming or is the production pipeline just really skewed toward the same race and class segregation as the rest of society? And is there anything to do about it? The SXSW lineup is only the latest to provoke that thought for me, and AJ Schnack’s gutsy call to harder-edged, more thoughtful discussion in docs triggers the thought to raise it in public, even though festivals are typically a moment to celebrate achievement. Read more...

SXSW: Fair Use Everywhere

The Internet's Own BoyWhile it was easy to find lawyers drumming up business by trash-talking fair use at SXSW, it was hard to find a documentary that hadn’t employed it, sometimes lavishly. Furthermore, you could even see fair use at work in fiction film work.

"Fair use is so important for independent producers like myself," said Sandy McLeod, maker of "Seeds of Time,"about the crucial importance of agricultural seed banks for successful climate-change adaptation.

Films that told recent history employed fair use to tell that history. Margaret Brown’s "The Great Invisible," which told the story of the human and social consequences of the BP oil spill, used fair use, and has already obtained errors and omissions insurance for it. Katy Chevigny, co-director of E-Team, said, "Sure, we used lots of fair use." Brian Knappenberger noted, “There was a lot of fair use in "The Internet’s Own Boy," as in all my films.” Read more...

SXSW: Net Neutrality and Netflix

Comcast MergerNet neutrality is something every media maker has to care about, explained Free Press’ Craig Aaron at SXSW 2014. 

Net neutrality means that Internet providers treat equally all the information that they transmit, rather than prioritizing the information they own or favor. The term is a loose one; in a literal sense this doesn’t really happen now, and couldn’t without freezing the Internet. But in general, you don’t want a provider to do a deal with its favorite, say, newspaper or movie service, at the expense of others. That’s why the FCC made it a condition of Comcast’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal.  Read more...

SXSW: Privacy, Surveillance and Media

Edward SnowdenThe focus on Internet privacy and surveillance at SXSW 2014 had implications for both techies and media makers.

Edward Snowden’s precise and elegant presentation, delivered via Google Hangout (irony duly noted) and along seven (!) proxies, was well-paired with another beamed-in interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reinforced Snowden’s concern. Read more...

SXSW: Engagement and Action

SXSWAt SXSW, social-issue storytellers—filmmakers, journalists, game designers, and more--could benefit from a range of messages, not all designed for the social-issue space. Consider: Read more...