" the nea tapes "
Read the Detroit Metro Times review " of the nea tapes " at the Detroit Docs Film Festival held at Wayne State University, November 2004.
"This is a pretty good government that can fund its dissenters,
that has the self-assurance to know that all voices can be heard in a democratic
Well over 200 of the top colleges and universities in the US and Canada have purchased " the nea tapes." Increasingly we are told that the " the nea tapes " is being used by faculty and librarians from many differing disciplines for their own research on the culture wars, the history of funding for culture and censorship. Also, numerous faculty and librarians have informed us that since the film bridges many disciplines, colleges have been able to resource different departments for funds for a purchase or visiting artist presentation.
" the nea tapes," as a work in progress, has been screened in the Halls of the US Congress; at the College Art Association and broadcast on John Pierson's "Split Screen" show on Bravo and on the Independent Film Channel.
" the nea tapes " provides the back story from the formation of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965, through the battles over suppressed speech in the 1990's, to why censorship is escalating. It is a story about the capacity of individuals to actuate change through dialogue.
The film presents 54 individual voices in 60 minutes - a multicultural, demographic overview of the subject. While framing the funding of ART within the context of free speech, the film documents how censorship effects not just the contemporary artist, but society at large.
Lastly, " the nea tapes " makes this complicated subject understandable and assessable by using personal stories of individuals to delineate the diversity of culture by example.
The filmmakers, Paul Lamarre and Melissa Wolf traveled across the USA documenting and discovering (through 300 interviews) the major events and players in this conflict: Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Karen Finley, and the story surrounding the Brooklyn Museum and the Mayor of New York City. The "right wing" is also heard from; including Martin Mawyer, director of the "Christian Action Network" as interviewed while presenting a "degenerate art show" in the Halls of Congress. This is the story of two artists looking for the democracy and free expression through the diversity of culture.
" the nea tapes " (2001) is particularly applicable for students and faculty interested in: the fine arts, art history, interdisciplinary studies, sociology, communications, government, cultural studies, performance studies, journalism, media studies, gender studies, museum studies, political science and first amendment law. This one hour documentary can be presented in various ways: as private or public screening; with panel discussion; or to individual classes. The film can be used as a catalyst to activate, inform, inspire, and challenge students on the issues of arts funding and censorship in America.
Also participating in " the nea tapes " are: the actors, Tim Robbins and Ed Asner; professor of linguistics at MIT, Noam Chomsky; attorney for the Brooklyn Museum, Floyd Abrams; playwright, Edward Albee; actor and former chair of the NEA, Jane Alexander; the artists - Chuck Close, Douglas Davis, Karen Finley, Andres Serrano, Kiki Smith, Fred Wilson; the late US Representative Sidney R. Yates and many others including Charlie R. Braxton; poet / playwright; Jackson, Mississippi.
" the nea tapes " will be presented in small community centers, schools, libraries and art centers across the country. (An on-line archive is being created with public access to " the nea tapes " and its over 300 recorded video interviews as streaming video and transcriptions.) We know that presenting this documentary opens minds. After a screening in Santa Monica, California, a self-described "Rush Limbaugh-listening truck driver" wrote us that the film changed his opinion about the importance of arts funding: " the nea tapes " helped me realize that just because I might not see the value in one piece of art, someone else might, and vice versa. No one should be able to tell another person how they should interpret something, whether they feel it is artistic or not."
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Eidia House / " the nea tapes documentary and archive "