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The 2002 Images Festival of Independent Film and Video in Toronto began its final day with “Media Active”, a panel of artists and media workers tossing the hot potato of activist film/video. Moderator Ali Kazimi set the agenda: “Can we distinguish aesthetically motivated decisions from politically motivated ones? Does it matter?” While hardcore activists might deem aesthetics a trivial issue, Tara Mateik’s “Military Myths” video showed how such concerns lead directly to real strategies and real struggle. Designed specifically to dissuade poor black kids from joining the Army, its hip-hop acculturation and wealth of concrete data easily held this outsider’s attention for 30 minutes. Kika Thorne didn’t connect with an under-teched recitative-with-video, but Giselle Gordon’s account of the “Blah Blah Blah” project combined stringent art-chauvinism with canny piggyback tactics and insights into grassroots distribution. Meanwhile, Dymitri Kleiner of Idiosyntactix represented the less glamorous world of tech support. Maybe he was too effusive about the agonizingly under moderated Independent Media Center (evidence available at; but it’s surely true that in Genoa, for instance, Indymedia’s coverage of Carlo Giuliani’s murder actually made inroads into what Kazimi calls “the larger audience.” The outreach issue stirred things up – while LIFT’s Malcolm Rogge suggested that “the more stories there are, and the more means of communication there are, the more enlightened we all become,” filmmaker Richard Fung insisted on a “substantial intervention into mainstream discourse… the circulation of information is at stake.” Perhaps my favorite panellist, Janko Baljak is a videographer for Belgrade’s autonomous media network, B92. Having recently survived the matched carnage of Milosevic and NATO, Baljak is assuredly an authority on media as struggle -especially given his highlighted videos “Anatomy of Pain 1 & 2”, about the workers who died in the bombing of the state TV studios. “B92 was conceived as a movement, not a station,” he insists. Their motto? “Don’t believe anyone – not even us.” (Jonathan Culp)

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