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Newsreel, Third World Newsreel, California Newsreel

Columbia Revolt (1968)

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Newsreel was a production and distribution company founded in 1967 in response to the political turmoil that surrounded the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement. Its mission was to find audiences for socially relevant documentaries with a New Left perspective.

Shunning the professional polish of mainstream productions, Newsreel embraced the aesthetic of raw immediacy that was prevalent in the newly flourishing underground press, rock music, cinema verite and poster art. The student movement (Columbia Revolt), racism (Black Panther) and Vietnam (No Game; People's War) were among the subjects Newsreel addressed. Feminist consciousness-raising efforts were documented in films such as The Woman's Film, produced collectively by women, and Makeout. Films made in association with Newsreel were strongly influenced by the film style of Santiago Alvarez, who headed Cuban newsreel production units after the 1959 revolution. His films, such as L.B.J. and Now omited narration in favor of collages of found materials, stills, newsreel footage and fragments from speeches.

In the early 1970's, many Newsreel offices disbanded (Note: Some Newsreel titles are still in distribution, for more information please go to Today, Third World Newsreel in New York and California Newsreel in San Francisco continue to produce and distribute films which take a leftist position on subjects such as the role of South African women in the movement against apartheid (You Have Struck a Rock!), the situation in Central America (The Marriage Dinner; Chronicle of Hope: Nicaragua), feminism (Permanent Wave), women in prison (Inside Women Inside), the history of Chinese immigrants in New York (From Spikes to Spindles) and battered wives and child abuse (To Love, Honor, and Obey; Suzanne, Suzanne). California Newsreel has also produced exposes of multinational corporations (Controlling Interest) and economics in the Reagan administration (The Business of America).

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