Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Next Month: Reel 2 Real

The Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth is coming up next month (February 23 - March 2, 2007), with some pretty intriguing films on the schedule. The unofficial theme this year seems to be boys' culture which, considering the amount of press and moral panic around boys and violence these days, is not a bad thing at all.

Here's my short list of feature-length "i must-see's":
We Shall Overcome: A Danish film set in 1969 about a 13-year old who, inspired by the televised speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., takes it upon himself to challenge a headmaster and school system who are failing to uphold the newly established ban on corporal punishment.

Treasure of the White Falcons: Think The Outsiders meets The Goonies in Germany. This coming of age movie seems to have everything - children's gangs, lost treasure, a secret cave...I'm there.

The Horror Bus: A Dutch film (based on a popular book series) about Onnoval, an 11-year old who writes fantasy revenge-themed horror stories as a way of coping with his outsider status at school, until one day a mystical (??) being steals his stories and starts bringing them to life. Our would-be villain thus finds himself pushed into the role of reluctant hero, as he sets out to retrieve the stories before anything bad really happens. I like the idea here and the distinction the film seems to be drawing between fantasy and reality, particularly within the context of violent and darker themes, which are such a normal-yet-demonized part of childhood.

Others to catch include many of the short films (several of which were made by teens and young adults), and two more films exploring unique perspectives into boys' culture, The Boy Inside and Boy Called Twist.


Jess D said...

Hi Sarah,

I caught some of the Reel 2 Real festival last year and was really impressed. There is a lot of skill and talent out there! On a different note, I was wondering what you think of the YouTube spoof postings.

I understand that some corporations are posting pre-ads or cleverly disguised ads on YouTube, hoping to remain covert and influence people.

Is this capitalism taking control of the great democratiser - the interne? Are we on the brink of a true post-modern passive revolution?

As a population, are our skills honed enough to weed out entertainment from sale pitches? Are these even seperate?

I knew it was inevitable, the corporate takeover of public space, but I am really curious to get your learned perspective on all this.

Sara M. Grimes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara M. Grimes said...

Hey Jess - Good question! One of the first times I really became interested (academically) in YouTube was as a result of the mystery surrounding LonelyGirl15 back in August and September. At the time, other YouTubers were putting it together that LonelyGirl15 was just a ruse, a guerilla marketing tactic of sorts to get people interested in a potential film/TV project (though I've always wondered if perhaps the true motives were not a little more ad-centric). Since then, new examples seem to be popping up all the time.

There are many names for this kind of covert marketing, buzz marketing, word-of-mouth, viral, etc. But whether it's the advertisers doing it directly, or just some shmuck who's been hired to do the dirty work for them, any way you look at it, it's advertising. And I really do think that the law is going to catch up eventually--they might not regulate the amount of ads we come to see in YouTube (and now that it's been sold we'll see a lot more advertising. In fact, it's highly doubtful that it ever had any intention of remaining ad-free in the first place), and they might not even regulate the content much, but they will certainly put some controls on covert marketing of this type. There are pretty strict rules in other media about identifying yourself as an ad/advertiser, and the FTC (the US Federal Trade Commission) has already issued a statement about how this relates to covert advertising on the Internet. According to them, "Failure to disclose compensation for a product’s endorsement could be a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act because the omission is both material and likely to mislead the consumer."

I'm sure there will be a lot of debate and back-and-forth about this, but ultimately I think that consumer support will be for advertisers to be made to self-identify, and this will become standard practice. Optimistic, perhaps, but there doesn't seem to be a way for advertisers to legally get around it.

In terms of your larger question, from my perspective, capitalism seems to be "taking over" the net at every opportunity and I don't think that we have anywhere near the skills and knowledge necessary to identify it--as you say, so much of it happens behind the scenes, and there's a disturbing trend among people today to simply see commercialization as a perfectly normalized part of life. The push for "user-generated content" has a strong ally among advertisers and marketers, who see this as a way of getting consumers to advertise to themselves. I'm very very interested to see how this will all play out in terms of copyright and compensation. On this issue, YouTube is pretty awesome, because they've already committed to sharing profits with users whose content succeeds in generating revenue. That's pretty cool, cause it means they are recognizing the users' authorship over their content, AND making it less of a free-ride for advertisers.

Sara M. Grimes said...

By the way...one of the issues that has (sadly) not yet received as much attention as advertising is data-mining, which also relates directly to the commercialization of social-networking sites and user-generated content. Sites like Facebook not only claim ownership over all content posted to the site (even on user pages), but actively mines this content to produce user profiles and trend reports that it then provides to its advertisers. For example, they'll keep track of what college students are "into" based on things they post on their pages - advertisers/clients can then use this to better target their ads, produce new products, etc.