The Newsreel

The Newsreel, most frequently called Newsreel, was an American filmmaking collective founded in New York City in late 1967. In keeping with the radical student/youth, antiwar and Black power movements of the time, the group explicitly described its purpose as using ‘films and other propaganda in aiding the revolutionary movement.’ The organization quickly established other chapters in San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, and soon claimed ‘150 full time activists in its 9 regional offices.’ Co-founder Robert Kramer called for ‘films that unnerve, that shake people’s assumptions…[that] explode like grenades in people’s faces, or open minds like a good can opener.’ Their film’s production logo was a flashing graphic of The Newsreel moving in and out violently in cadence with the staccato sounds of a machine gun. A contemporary issue of Film Quarterly described it as ‘the cinematic equivalent of Leroi Jones’s line I want poems that can shoot bullets. The films produced by Newsreel soon became regular viewing at leftwing political gatherings during the late 1960s and early 1970s, seen in parks, church basements, on the walls of buildings, in union halls, even at Woodstock.’ … While the political left of those times often appreciated Newsreel’s films, some critics also recognized their quality and the talent involved. An investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security observed during Congressional hearings: ‘although they are very peculiarly dressed and look rather peculiar…they do have some film-making talent because many of those films are quality films although they are extremely propagandistic and distorted. They are well put together.’ Several founding members of Newsreel have written that it was the October 21, 1967 October 1967 antiwar march of 100,000 people on Washington, DC and the Pentagon that was the precipitating event leading to the formation of the organization. …”
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