GI Film Festival: Reel Stories! Real Heroes!

by Kate Spence 05/16/2011 14:09 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

This past week, the GI Film Festival was back in D.C. for its fifth-annual, weeklong exhibition of films honoring the U.S. Armed Forces.  Described by some as “Sundance for the troops,” it’s an opportunity for audiences to better appreciate the sacrifice of military life, both in and out of combat zones.  The themes, tones, lengths and styles of the films screened vary, but all in some way revere the men and women who serve.

It was nice to see some big stars show their support for GIFF, the first and only film festival dedicated to the U.S. Armed Forces.  Steadfast friend of the military and 2007 GI Spirit Award-winner Gary Sinise hosted a congressional reception for Korean War Veterans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of their service.  Friday night, Lou Diamond Phillips was feted with the GI Spirit Award; and William Devane – star of Flag of My Father, which made its DC premiere at the festival – was presented this year’s GI Choice Award.  The Real M.A.S.H., a documentary about actual Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals in the Korean War and behind-the-scenes insight about the characters, events and controversies of the hit TV series, made its U.S. premiere on Tuesday night’s salute to international warriors.  Paul Giamatti’s 13th century-based feature film Ironclad made its DC-premiere on Wounded Warrior Appreciation Night. 

Film has the power to make stories resonate with viewers on a very personal level; the full gamut of human emotions can be provoked by a single movie.  At the GIFF, film also compels us to consider – in a concrete way – the sacrifice of military life, thank the men and women who serve, and think about what can be done to better serve those who serve this country.  We are proud sponsors of the GI Film Festival and salute their efforts to honor U.S. Service Members past and present.

A Broad Coalition Indeed!

by Kate Spence 05/12/2011 15:19 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The PROTECT IP Act was introduced to the U.S. Senate today, uniting a group of sometimes disparate voices to advocate for a common purpose: protecting creative workers from online theft.  Democrats, Republicans, unions, guilds, businesses, associations, alliances, federations, studios – all proponents of saving American jobs, investment, and the forward momentum advancing our innovative progress – made their collective impact felt.

The Introducers:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

The Other Sponsors:
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

The Supporters:
The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)
The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA)
The Directors Guild of America (DGA)
The American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
Nashville Songwriters Association International
Songwriters Guild of America
NBCUniversal
Viacom
National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)
Macmillan Publishers
Acushnet
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Copyright Alliance
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Copyright Alliance has a list of links to the statements of support from the organizations listed above.  Check it out.

IFTA, NATO and MPAA issued a joint release that includes background on the bill.

Technology and Content: A Symbiotic Bond

by Kate Spence 05/10/2011 08:44 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Nice post from Copyright Alliance on the false dichotomy of technology versus content. 

The truth is, the alliance between content and technology has existed since the inception of filmed entertainment. 

We’ve come a long way from the Kinetoscope of the late 1800s – considered high-tech equipment at the time. The digital screen transformation and 3D technology have revolutionized the film industry in the past few years.  Now we’re looking for innovative ways to get movies and TV shows to audiences faster, better, and on whatever cool new device they so choose. 

Bottom line: Consumers use technology for the purpose of watching content, not just for the sake of using technology.  Likewise, without technology, our content is inaccessible.  One doesn’t work without the other.  Like the oxpecker and the rhino, their partnership is symbiotic.

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, and What the First Amendment Means to the MPAA

by Senator Chris Dodd 05/06/2011 12:48 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

This week, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, a holiday dedicated by UNESCO to honor the fundamental principles of press freedom, monitor and defend that freedom around the world, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.  It’s also nearly the one-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which I sponsored in the Senate and passed last year. 

As a U.S. Senator and Co-Chair of the Freedom of the Press Congressional Caucus, protecting the media – their workforce and their content – was a commitment in which I passionately believed and strived to uphold. 

As Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, I now have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of an organization that’s history is steeped in defending First Amendment principles. 

Many people don’t realize that the MPAA itself was born as an answer to government censorship.  Before the establishment of the MPAA’s Classifications and Rating Administration, early filmmakers battled a mishmash of local, state and federal boards that mandated strict “moral standards” that often destroyed the artistic integrity of films or kept them from being shown at all. 

In the early 1920’s, for example, a pregnant woman could appear onscreen in New York, but not in Pennsylvania.  Even when censorship boards in different jurisdictions were implementing substantially identical regulations, each board would often demand different changes.  It was a system that was both prohibitively expensive and restrictive for many filmmakers. 

Since 1968, the Classifications and Rating Administration’s voluntary ratings system and its partnership with the National Association of Theater Owners have served to effectively educate moviegoers about content contained in films and to bar unaccompanied minors from viewing films meant strictly for mature audiences.  This system of self-regulation rendered government censorship of artistic expression superfluous.  

I’m honored to be part of this history.  As head of the MPAA, I will continue to promote the power of film as an effective, moving and extremely valuable form of expression and the need for governments here and abroad to foster and protect the creativity of filmmakers, not censor it.

Artists Against Digital Theft Educates, Arms and Unites Creators Online

by Kate Spence 05/06/2011 08:26 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

For individual artists, seeing your life’s work duplicated and propagated on the web without your permission or control is devastating; trying to protect your art – especially online – is a daunting challenge. 

Creative industry workers often fight a losing battle to maintain distributive control of the product they invested in and depend on to pay their bills.  Sorting through tedious copyright laws and coping with the frustrating, whack-a-mole game of DMCA takedown notices can be a full-time job in itself, and artists shouldn’t have to do it alone. 

New campaigns are cropping up online to give creators new platforms to unite against the shared threat of digital theft and advocate for policies that benefit those who contribute art and innovation.  They give creators the opportunity to share the latest information – all in one place – about the threat of their products being stolen and what can be done to stop it.

Artists Against Digital Theft is one new site for artists created by artists to support artists that’s aim is to arm the creative community with information about how to protect their work, what’s being done at the enforcement and legislative level and what can be done to support efforts to compensate individuals whose high-quality products make them targets for anonymous online thievery.  You can’t find a more authentic voice in the fight against copyright theft.

Creative workers are bolstered when they stand together as a community, and we think these types of campaigns are great new ways to do just that.


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