censorship of Farocki's film

Milos Stehlik (milos@interaccess.com)
Wed, 23 Sep 1998 20:38:05 -0500

Dear Friends,

Today, we learned that Allied Digital Technologies in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, one of the country's
major video duplicators and formerly a film laboratory, informed Facets Viode that they have made a "final
decision" to not fulfill our purchase order for tape copies of Harun Farocki's documentary film, LIFE IN THE
GERMAN FEDERAL REPUBLIC (1989). Allied has been the principal lab and duplicator used by Facets Video for over
15 years.

In their own words, Allied explained that, "Allied made a decision years ago to not duplicate any programs
that could be considered offensive to Children's or Religious markets and even our employees," and that "the
first portion of the program show(s) a male and female engaging in explicit sexual intercourse" and because

Harun Farocki is one of the most important filmmakers working in Germany - the director of over a dozen
films, and the subject of a major national U.S. and Canadian 1991 retrospective tour sponsored by the Goethe
Institute, which played, among other venues, the Cinematheque Ontario, Anthology Film Archives in New York
City, and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California.

LIFE IN THE GFR (also known as "How to Live in the Federal Republic of Germany") is described by Farocki (in
the program of the 1990 Berlin Film Festival where it premiered) as "a playful film." Women enact childbirth,
policemen the arrest of tenants, bank employees the calming of angry customers....These role-playing games,
psychodramas, sociodramas present a view of life in the Federal Republic of Germany." Writing about the film
in the Toronto Globe and Mail, John Bentley Mays said "Farocki is no self-righteous, finger-pointing unmasker.
He's made it his business merely to open up the paradoxes, waywardness and mperversities hidden by the facade
of culture, to tell the hidden stories of war, peace and technology that he's ferreted out oft he archives of
modern forgetfulness."

While Farocki's film does open with a very short simulated sex scene -- a computer game device is being tested
for durability with a pornographic film. LIFE IN GFR is perhaps one of the most anti-pornographic films ever

We at Facets view this action by Allied as another instance of a corporate entity -- in this case a lab --
setting itself up in judgment of an artist's work -- and in fact censoring that work. Allied's stated hope
that "our decision does not jeopardize our relationship with Facets" (from the same letter by Jim Mitchell,
Vice President of Sales) represents to us a hypocritical double-standard in which the artist's rights to
think, create and disseminate their work are marginalized, restricted and libeled as "pornographic" by
economic fears.

We have informed Allied that if, indeed, they choose not to duplicate LIFE IN THE GFR, Facets will withdraw
ALL of the more than 200 video masters from Allied (which includes work by many American independents, Godard,
Kiarostami, Makavejev, etc. and refuse Allied any of our duplicating business.

The reason for sharing this with you is because we feel this censorship peril is lurking quietly in many
hidden spots of the economy. Therefore we feel that Allied's action should not go unmarked.

Any comments or letters to Allied about this matter should be addressed to Jim Mitchell, Vice President of
Sales, FAX 847-595-8677 or e-mailed to:

Many thanks.

Milos Stehlik
Facets Video