Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Last year, we published a piece by long-time friend of the Labs, Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr, about his visit to the Liberty Film Festival, and it looks like this year, we’ve got another report on the one weekend of the year where it’s okay to be a Republican in Hollywood. Check this out:
I trust you had a spooktacular time in the labs this weekend although there is probably nothing more frightening to many of your readers than knowing that the conservative Liberty Film Festival 2.0 has returned bigger, better and stronger than ever to spread truth, justice, and the American Way to the blue states and bleeding blue hearts of this great land of ours. My brand new assistant DR. ALFRED NECESSITER was on hand to bring this site it's annual dose of the Right Stuff
(And just remember: if you oppose W, and the war in Iraq it's okay. And take comfort in the fact that at least you are functioning with the same brain capacity as Celine Dion).
Here's Dr. Necessiter --
While being a Republican in Hollywood bears a heavier stigma than being a Klingon at a Star Wars convention, you wouldn’t know it if you attended last weeks Liberty Film Festival. Held at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, the second annual Festival was host to over 4000 people, industry panelists, and a collection of films, both narrative and documentary, covering a broad range of topics.
The Festival’s co-founders, Govindini Murty and her husband Jason Apuzzo, sought to open the door to filmmakers who want not only to see more conservative-themed movies on screen, but also to audiences who demand higher-quality storytelling that addresses issues being ignored by the entertainment industry; issues the average American cares about.
Govindini characterizes “conservative” movies today as being something more than just political statements on screen, but rather films containing humanisitic stories, characters, and scenarios. Humanism, she says, is primarily what is lacking in today’s nihilistic entertainment culture, and this deficit is most likely a major contributing factor in the recent box office slump. Audiences connect with stories with which they can relate – stories with characters that face moral challenges, emotional struggles, and immense physical pain that they overcome in the end. These are uplifting films that can make people love their country and each other when they leave the theater. Take the 1997 hit “Titanic,” for example. Crowds flocked to see the 3-hour epic 5, 10, even 20 times, and it wasn’t for the visual effects. It was for the love story and the deep personal connection that everyone felt with Jack and Rose.
Humanistic films dominated Hollywood since the birth of the studios, which, in case you weren’t aware, were entirely founded and operated by Jewish, conservative republicans, from Louis B. Mayer to Jack Warner. In fact, the majority of classic Hollywood was dominated by conservative republicans who directed and starred in many of the films that you and I adore from that era – John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Capra, John Ford, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cecil B. DeMille to name a few.
Like last year, the 2005 Liberty Film Festival was composed primarily of documentary film, which is of no surprise, considering the conservative voice on many issues has been suppressed on the screen and is only now allowed to be heard. The festival kicked off with a light-hearted short, “Fellowship 9/11,” produced and directed by Rick Nyholm, which used the “Lord of the Rings” narrative to spoof the idiocy of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Nyholm creatively used the LOTR collaboration of the various divisions of Middle Earth against Mordor as a way to parody the convoluted “pipeline conspiracy” constructed in Fahrenheit. “Fellowship” garnered laughter that warmed the crowd and was followed by introductions by Govindini and Jason.
BRAINWASHING 201: THE SECOND SEMESTER
The next film up was Evan Malony’s sequel to last year’s documentary “Brainwashing 101,” “Brainwashing 201: The Second Semester,” in which Malony and his crew expose the rampant leftist, close-minded atmosphere of vitriolic anti-Americanism and Marxist indoctrination on campuses around the country. The film was introduced by political activist, father of the “Academic Bill of Rights,” and Founder and President of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, David Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz’ speech was interrupted by two protestors who infiltrated the festival and stormed the stage, championing their love for the first amendment by shouting at him, “You have no right to speak!” The energy with which they attacked and the swiftness with which they were removed (literally dragging their feet in the aisle) roused the crowd and made “Brainwashing” all the more enjoyable.
In “Brainwashing 201,” Malony provides a startling account of extreme liberalism run amok on college campuses today. He illustrates that most university faculty are composed predominately of democrats and that republicans are pariahs among their peers. In an interview with a science professor whose co-workers discovered that she was the one and only Republican on staff, the professor tells us that she was harassed daily – verbally, through email, and by having her office moved several times in the course of a couple weeks – until she was forced to take legal action against the university – a case that she later won. A key aspect of “Brainwashing” is Malony’s brilliant, on-camera, Michael Moore-like (for lack of a better comparison) interviews with students and faculty where he poses a leading question and feigns empathy with the interviewee as they spout an emotionally charged response. His exemplary debate skills allow him to calmly fire logical retorts that leave his opponents tripping over their words. These interviews leave you hungry for more at the end of the 30-minute film and sick to your stomach at the shocking unknown truths that he uncovers. Malony’s next film, a feature-length version of the “Brainwashing” series, “Indoctrinate U,” is slated for release next year.
“Dead Meat,” a documentary about the nationalized Canadian healthcare system followed. Produced by “Brainwashing’s” Stuart Browning and Blaine Greenberg, the film shows the side of Canada’s healthcare that you never hear about from those who laud it as being exactly what America should institute.
BROKEN PROMISES: THE UNITED NATIONS AT 60
Friday closed with the L.A. premiere of “Broken Promises. The United Nations at 60,” written and directed by Kevin Knoblock and narrated by Ron Silver. A compelling case for UN reform, “Broken Promises” chronicles the creation and history of the United Nations, why it was formed, and the challenges it has faced since its inception. The film uses major international conflicts as evidence to construct a cogent argument for how the UN has failed to uphold his original doctrine to prevent aggression between countries that are part of its coalition. A result of moral bankruptcy, cowardice, and complacence, we see how the UN has been both directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions.
SEALED FOR YOUR PROTECTION
Saturday morning’s event was host to several narrative and documentary shorts. Anna Z. and Jeffers Dodge opened with “Sealed for Your Protection,” a 12-minute look at how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unilaterally decided to remove a minute cross from the LA County Seal for fear of litigation from the ACLU. This event became national news, and a grassroots effort to force the county to put the decision in the hands of voters sprung out of the controversy.
365 BOOTS ON THE GROUND
A unique, uplifting, and fascinating documentary, “365 Boots on the Ground,” directed by Kc Wayland, was the first-person account, by an Army reservist, of a year in Iraq. Using a small camcorder and a self-designed helmet cam, Wayland draws you right into the middle of the action, both in training and combat, giving you a feeling of what its like to be in the army and exposing a reality that we never see on the TV news. What makes this film so special is the way Wayland conveys the genuine goodness and heartfelt sincerity with which the men and women in the Army approach their work. The film does a masterful job of showing that being a soldier is more than just fighting terrorists, its rebuilding schools and providing aid. It is easy to forget that the troops fighting in the Middle East are individuals with families and lives of their own. Through Wayland’s interaction with his best friends and cohorts in his platoon, we see a more human side of the armed forces versus the caricatures drawn by the TV news media.
A TEMP FOR ALL SEASONS
One of the better short films that exemplified the direction narrative conservative filmmaking can go at this festival was up next: “A Temp for All Seasons,” directed by Keith Ray Putnam. Simple in its premise but significant in its message, the short emphasizes the importance of morality, even in ordinary circumstances. An office temp refuses to lie to callers about the whereabouts or availability of his boss. When all the employees are forced to sign a memo that states they must tell callers whatever their bosses instruct them to, the Temp refuses and hilarity ensues. As young, conservative filmmakers find their voice and discover the thematic elements their audiences crave, we can expect to see a greater balance between narrative and documentary filmmaking in coming years at the Liberty Film Festival.
STOP BITCHING, START A REVOLUTION
Evan Malony’s production team took one final swing with his short “Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution.” The film takes us back to 2004 and into the middle of some sizeable protests where demonstrators are lamenting the President’s re-election and sharing with one another their conspiracy theories on how he pulled it off. Malony is there, microphone in one hand and handing out Hilary Clinton, Michael Moore, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden dolls as consolation prizes with the other. At the same time, he is successful in extracting some entertaining words from his giftees regarding their thoughts on the election.
EMANCIPATION, REVELATION, REVOLUTION
Saturday afternoon saw the World Premiere of “Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution,” directed by Nina May. What should be required viewing in every high school history class, not to mention black churches around the country, white churches...hell, everyone needs to see this film! In an age where few Americans are even aware of the roots of their own nation, Nina May’s film provides shocking and little known facts about the role the Republican Party played in the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement.
”Emancipation” unveils the truth that the Republican Party was actually birthed out of the minds of congressmen who shared a common cause: a hatred for slavery and the desire to eliminate pro-slavery legislation from the House and Senate. In fact, most black families in America voted Republican after the Civil War and up through the 50s, and the early congress in the United States was composed of a sizable number of black lawmakers. One of the most shocking points May’s film makes is that once the Democratic party, responsible for the creation of the KKK, regained control of the House and Senate in 1892, it repealed civil rights laws that were similar, if not identical, to laws enacted during the Civil Rights movement, over 70 years later. This year, the LFF was also host to several shorts that played at the First Iraqi Film Festival. Since the removal of Saddam, the people of Iraq finally have the freedom to express themselves through film, and their films included stories about Iraqi culture and history of their nation.
COCHISE COUNTY, USA: CRIES FROM THE BORDER
The illegal immigration issue was the topic of “Cochise County, USA: Cries from the Border,” produced and directed by Mercedes Maharis. (www.criesfromtheborder.net) A timely subject and controversial issue, the film uses one of the most extreme examples, at the most heavily trafficked illegal immigrant crossing point in Arizona, of how illegal aliens are infiltrating our country at an unprecedented rate, endangering our citizens, littering our deserts, and transporting drugs and criminals. “Cochise County” is a balanced looked at the illegal immigration issue and sympathizes with Mexicans who are seeking a better life. It shows us the tragedy that many people face when trying to cross the treacherous desert on foot unprepared, often dying midway, only to be left behind by their parties. However, at the same time, we are lead to an understanding that the ease with which Mexicans cross the border is identical to that of people from other countries. Interviews with Border Patrol officers tell us that every month, they are arresting a growing number of people from many different countries, including Iraq, Iran, and Syria. This incredibly well constructed documentary does well not to politicize the border issue; rather, it forms a well-founded argument that our open borders are national security issue that is being ignored by the government.
Saturday closed with a 35mmm screening of one of my favorite John Ford films, “The Searchers,” starring John Wayne. The film was introduced by Hal Needham, director of “Smokey and the Bandit” and stuntman who worked with Wayne on several of his films. Needham shared some anecdotes about what it was like working with “ol’ Duke” on “The Searchers” and other films.
Despite some of the dated dialogue and cinematic conventions of “The Searchers,” there is an innate, timeless quality about the film’s story and characters. John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a strong-willed, determined, yet emotionally distant man of principle – a character sadly missing from film today. As the men in the film set out to rescue Ethan’s kidnapped niece, Ethan represents a pillar of strength that keeps the search party together. Additionally, throughout the movie, Wayne’s character establishes a clear line between good and evil men and that the only way to truly avenge the deaths of his family members is to eradicate the men who took their lives.
Call these “conservative” themes if you want, but they are exactly how audiences connect with what they’re watching on screen. These are tried and true principles in storytelling for American cinema. Perhaps if movies today contained more noble characters like Ethan Edwards, men who stand for something, love their family, and fight the bad guys at all cost, studios wouldn’t be suffering from a loss in ticket sales.
Sunday, the final day of the festival, began with “Entering Zion,” a new film from our friends at ProtestWarrior.com, Kfir Alfia and Alan Lipton. Alfia and Lipton document their yearly visit to Israel to see family, giving us a rarely seen view of modern Israel, from nightclubs in Tel Aviv to the Gaza Strip to the Wailing Wall. Unlike the footage of mayhem and chaos broadcast daily by the 24-hour news stations, “Entering Zion” provides perspective on what life is really like in Israel, minus the terrorism and devastation caused by its neighboring countries.
OBSESSION: RADICAL ISLAM'S WAR AGAINST THE WEST
Winner of the Liberty Film Festival Best Feature Film prize, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” directed by Wayne Kopping, shocked the audience with its carefully constructed, objective, and fact-based examination of radical Islam today – what it is, how it affects us, and why it is working. (www.obsessionthemovie.com) “Powerful” would be an understatement in describing the impact of this film. Many of us doubt or misunderstand America’s rationale for the War on Terror and our presence in Iraq. “Obsession” will open the eyes of any naysayer to the ominous threat facing our civilization. The film includes testimony from a former PLO terrorist, university professors, and a former youth commander for the Nazi regime. Shocking footage from Arabic TV from different parts of the globe shows Muslim clerics publicly denouncing the West and challenging their people to rise up and fight in Jihad. “Obsession” goes further to show that the hate for the Western world is more than simply hate for Jews or Israel, but that it is a deeply rooted aspect of Muslim culture in certain countries. Frightening and sad clips from Palestinian schools show the indoctrination of hate into children from the moment they can speak. Newsreels from September 11, 2001 show people in Middle-Eastern countries dancing and cheering in the streets after the two towers fell.
One of the most captivating and little known facts in the film is the connection between Nazism and Radical Islam as we know it today. “Obsession” investigates the 1941 meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. During this clandestine conclave, Hitler tells al-Husseini to “lock away in his heart” the true motivations behind the supposed secular Nazi movement: the total annihilation of the Jews. This demonstrated the willingness of Islamo-facists to rally with their own enemies around a common cause. The film went on to draw a parallel between Muslim propaganda against the West and the tactics implemented by Joseph Goebbles during Hitler’s rein in WWII. What results is an undeniable case that Islamo-fascism is merely a different face of the same kind of enemy America was fighting 60 years ago in Europe.
ROBOTECH/GRACE BEFORE MEALS/WE THE LIVING
Up next was a preview of new “Robotech,” footage form an upcoming anime film, and “Grace Before Meals,” a TV pilot directed by Chris Beutler about a Catholic priest who visits families to show them how to strengthen their bonds through cooking. The Festival closed with a 100th Birthday tribute screening to author Ayn Rand with the film “We the Living,” directed by Goffredo Alessandrini.
An amazing aura of optimism and hope surrounded the Liberty Film Festival this year. Writers, directors, and movie-lovers alike, who share un-welcomed view of the world and how it is represented on the big screen today, found an open arena of thought and discussion in the center of liberal Hollywood. While a drastic slant toward more conservative-based filmmaking isn’t going to happen in the studios anytime soon, the LFF is showing us that the market for these films exists and the digital revolution, which puts filmmaking at the fingertips of any artist, is what will bring them to the public.