Re: censorship of Farocki's film

Milos Stehlik (milos@interaccess.com)
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 07:59:09 -0500

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Stan --

I don't think that's the issue. Of course there are a zillion duplicators, and this has nothing to
do with distribution, and of course it is the right of any commercial entity to choose what work
they will and will not do. But I do think that when a lab, whose business it is, after all, to
deal with works of arts, arbitrarily sits in judgment and labels (and libels) an artist's work
as not meeting some kind of artificial "standard", that is censorship. I think publishers fight
these battles all the time with printers, filmmakers lose these battles constantly just because
TV networks or funding entities have parameters of subject matter which they can and cannot
deal with -- all this, in small ways, combines to restrict the artist's right of self-expression
and our right to hear and see a diversity of views.

Milos Stehlik

Stan Gilliam wrote:

> Even though you may be disturbed by Allied's position, I don't think you
> should label this as
> "censorship." The lab has no control or power over the distribution of the
> film, and I don't suppose there is any law that requires them to duplicate a
> particular film or even to do business with Facets.
> I'm sure you can find someone else to duplicate it.
>
> At 06:47 PM 9/23/98 -0700, you wrote:
> >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
> >made.
> >
> >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:
> >ilchigg@allied.mhs.compuserve.com
> >
> >
> >Many thanks.
> >
> >
> >Milos Stehlik
> >Director
> >Facets Video
> >
> >
> >
> Stan Gilliam
> Director of Media Services
> Guilford College
> 5800 W. Friendly Avenue
> Greensboro, NC 27410
> __----__
> Phone 336 316 2345 \/ __ \/
> Fax 336 316 2950 >( ____ )<
> E-mail Stan@pals.guilford.edu >| ___\ ___ |<
> ((-| -* /\ *- |-))
>
> \\| .. |//
> | ///\\\ |
> \ ---- /
> \ . /
> \__/

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Stan --

I don't think that's the issue. Of course there are a zillion duplicators, and this has nothing to
do with distribution, and of course it is the right of any commercial entity to choose what work
they will and will not do. But I do think that when a lab,  whose business it is, after all, to
deal with works of arts, arbitrarily sits in judgment and labels (and libels) an artist's work
as not meeting some kind of artificial "standard", that is censorship. I think publishers fight
these battles all the time with printers, filmmakers lose these battles constantly just because
TV networks or funding entities have parameters of subject matter which they can and cannot
deal with -- all this, in small ways, combines to restrict the artist's right of self-expression
and our right to hear and see a diversity of views.

Milos Stehlik
 

Stan Gilliam wrote:

Even though you may be disturbed by Allied's position, I don't think you
should label this as
"censorship."  The lab has no control or power over the distribution of the
film, and I don't suppose there is any law that requires them to duplicate a
particular film or even to do business with Facets.
I'm sure you can find someone else to duplicate it.

At 06:47 PM 9/23/98 -0700, you wrote:
>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
>made.
>
>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:
>ilchigg@allied.mhs.compuserve.com
>
>
>Many thanks.
>
>
>Milos Stehlik
>Director
>Facets Video
>
>
>
Stan Gilliam
Director of Media Services
Guilford College
5800 W. Friendly Avenue
Greensboro, NC  27410
                                                  __----__
Phone   336 316 2345                            \/   __   \/
Fax     336 316 2950                           >(   ____   )<
E-mail  Stan@pals.guilford.edu                 >| ___\ ___ |<
                                             ((-| -* /\ *- |-))

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