Re: censorship of Farocki's film

mark forman (
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 15:30:52 +0000

One of the realities of being a business involved in film/video production
or duplication is the fact that whatever you happen to be working on is
going to be visible on a monitor somewhere. So maybe the public relations
department is taking a third grade class on a tour of the dubbing facility
and just as they're walking through Dub Rack "B" there is the scene of
sexual intercourse. At that point, what IS the context and to whom is it
relevant? I'm not saying Allied is right or wrong in their policy but
regardless of their size, they are not just a faceless entity passing down
pronouncements. Real people work there who may be affected by the images
that go through in ways we may not stop to think about. And those real
people probably feel they ought to have the right to decide how to balance
the culture's responsibility to support artists with their own desire to
have a voice in the environment in which they spend the lion's share of
their time.
Mark Forman
The Great White Dog Picture Company

>From: Milos Stehlik <>
>To: Multiple recipients of list <>
>Subject: Re: censorship of Farocki's film
>Date: Thu, Sep 24, 1998, 9:46 PM

>I think that if you are going to follow this line of reasoning, you will
soon end up in absurd
>territory. No one is denying a company's right to refuse a job, but I
don't think duplicating
>videos is exactly like producing widgets. The film lab business, like
casting sculptures or
>framing photographs or printing books, happens to be a business which
assists the artist
>in realizing his/her work. And, in my view, the first responsibility of the
company then rests
>with the artist, with helping the artist realize his/her vision -- that IS
their business. This means
>a respect for the artist's vision. Taking the work, in this case of a
well-established artist whose
>LIFE IN THE GERMAN FEDERAL REPUBLIC was produced by German national
television -
>and on the basis of one scene lasting about 45 seconds not seen or taken in
context and then labeling it as
>being below some fictional and artificial standard is, I think, a crime
against the artist's integrity and
>If Allied Digital Laboratories were The Fundamentalist Video Duplicating
Labs, with a stated
>purpose implied in their name, one could understand this action in context.
But this is a company
>which duplicates 100 million cassettes each year, has nine U.S. plants, and
has built their
>business by doing the work for film and video makers and for their
>I think it's a short step from refusing to duplicate Farocki to refusing to
duplicate Kiarostami,
>because his films are made in Iran and we know they ain't Christians over
there, or Godard,
>because some of the films don't really have a story, or films with lots of
flag poles, because
>they look like phallic symbols to someone.
>And yes, there is always fortunately someone to print, duplicate or frame
-- but it also took
>dozens of samizdat typists and lots of carbon paper to "print" those
forbidden books which
>some state/commercial entity like a Soviet publishing house didn't deem up
to the "moral standards"
>of the state publishing system. I could name you a list of talented
filmmakers (Evald Schorm, Pavel Juracek
>come to mind) who, denied the possibility of working, because their work
was not up to someone's "standard"
>who then exercised their right not to produce their work, simply withered
and died. It is our loss -- they
>had a lot to say.
>It's easy for an artist and a work of art to be marginalized and pushed to
the extremes - which is why I
>think to preserve the freedom of expression and availability and access to
diverse views and opinions takes
>exterme vigilance.
>Censors have faces and they don't need a government title to do their work.
>Milos Stehlik
>Facets Video
>Dennis Welker wrote:
>> I think this is an interesting discussion. Can it really be considered
>> censorship to refuse to duplicate a film that violates the company"s
>> standards? This is to say that the company is simply there to do
>> everything that you bid them to do. Considering it from the point of view
>> of the lab, isn't it like saying they have no right to set their own
>> standards? I think to simply argue that the material doesn't violate
>> standards does not obligate them.
>> It seems to me that if this argument is valid, then no company who
>> similar services has a right to refuse work they deem inappropriate just
>> because the client wants it done. There seems to be no obligatory
>> relationship here. It may be to their financial benefit (from your point
>> view) to accept the job, but insistence to go against their standards may
>> lose other business and certainly doesn't say very much about the client.
>> They don't seem to be preventing the duplication, only saying they won't
>> take the job. As far as I can see, they have no legal or moral
>> to take your job. They do however, have a moral obligation to abide by
>> their standards.
>> To label this as censorship attaches a legal stance to their refusal. To
>> against their company's standards/policies would destroy their integrity
>> and may have negative repercussions on their business. I certainly hope
>> they do not succumb to threats. In a country where there is little moral
>> conscience from the White house down, I applaud them for maintaining
>> integrity.
>> It is their choice to refuse your job, not censorship. You have other
>> legal choices to get the film duplicated, which may not be as convenient,
>> but certainly are available.
>> Dennis L. Welker
>> Faculty Services Coordinator
>> Brigham Young University
>> Media Services
>> 251 Fletcher Building
>> Provo, Utah 84606
>> Ph: (801) 378-6781
>> Fax: (801) 378-5265
>> E-mail: