Flicks - Video vigilantes

While the democratic potential of video is not new, it has recently become more sophisticated. The latest wave of digital video technology has made it possible for John Q. Camcorder to upgrade and diversify his resources. For about two grand, anyone can now shoot, edit and globally disseminate motion-image media. But what about that two grand? The folks who can most benefit from media representation are usually not the ones cruising the Apple store for new video-editing software.

About a mile down Decatur Street from the aforementioned graffito call-to-arms, a group of film students at Georgia State University is addressing this complication of the “digital divide.” A new film course at GSU sets out to bring together media-literate students, the university’s production equipment and the stories of some of Atlanta’s non-mainstream voices.

“The idea is to approach a group whose voice has been overlooked by traditional media outlets and share our media-creation resources with that group,” says Niklas Vollmer, film professor at GSU. The current student project, called “The City too Busy to Hate,” includes an on-the-streets account of the gentrification of Cabbagetown and Atlanta’s old Fourth Ward, as well as a documentary on the formation of GSU’s Department of African-American Studies.

Within the competition-driven atmosphere of film school, Vollmer’s project is ambitiously unselfish. It sounds like an idealistic endeavor, but the results are surprisingly on-target. The first round of visual vignettes can be found at the class-sponsored website: www.gsu.edu/~wwwwfv/city.

One of the more intriguing films in the project is a video short titled “This Is Class War.” The video verite camera follows a trio of bandana-clad bandits as they vandalize urban loft developments. The potty-mouthed, anti-yuppie diatribes of the trio range from poignant to pathetic, but the overall portrait is beautifully honest.

For information on this community-based media project, contact professor Niklas Vollmer at www.gsu.edu/~wwwwfv/city.