Media that Matters

For all you Pinko, Commie, bleeding heart tree-huggers out there, there’s a film festival just for you. And you can screen all the selections online. The ninth annual Media that Matters Film Festival kicked off at the beginning of June with a screening at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and will continue with sporadic screenings all the way through the fall, domestically and in Rome.

Currently describing itself as the “premiere showcase for short films on the most important topics of the day,” these mini-docs pack almost as much punch as PBS Frontline into 5- to 12-minute shorts. (Note: Beware of autoplays below.)

Going by some of the selections from last year’s festival, ‘09’s version looks to have amped up the quality substantially. This year’s standouts include Lone Wolf, a 5-minute profile of journalist/activist Josh Wolf (check out the opening title sequence: worth the price of admission alone).

You may recall Wolf as the young journalist who refused to turn over his video footage of a San Francisco demonstration to the Feds and wound up serving 226 days in prison. Shot by Stanford MFA candidate Jason Sussberg, the piece covers Wolf’s work as a reporter with Palo Alto’s Daily Post, and follows his answers to those who questioned whether or not he’s a real journalist, and to parry whether or not it’s possible to be a journalist and an activist.

Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger’s jury prize-winning The Next Wave poignantly charts the first civilization to be driven from its home by climate change without any sentimentality. Funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the film introduces us to inhabitants of the Carteret Islands (or the Atoll), whose crops are already being destroyed by the tides.

A group of the Carterets visit the ‘mainland,’ which in this case is nearby Tinputz, and are told in no uncertain terms by rather judgmental Tinputz wisemen about the realities of working for a living, as opposed to ‘lying on the beach all day.’ Redfearn and Metzger are working on a feature-length version called Sun Come Up. It’s a story that definitely merits the coverage.

One other short worth checking out is La Hoja, about the coca leaf grown in the Andes of Bolivia. Produced and directed by Gabrielle Weiss, (and also funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting), La Hoja documents the ways in which the war on drugs has only brought chaos to an already very modest culture.

In the small village of Las Yungas, the locals use coca leaves in their natural state, simply as basic homegrown pharmaceuticals, or to chew to stave off hunger. We learn that it takes tremendous quantities and chemical transformations to create cocaine. It’s yet another case of the U.S. government putting its finger into too many pies, if you’ll excuse the bad metaphor.

Check out more films from this year’s revolutionaries at

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