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For a Few Dollars More; The Media NonProfit Crisis

For a Few Dollars More; The Media NonProfit Crisis

In the Village Voice this week, I tackle the AIVF crisis — and the troubles at media nonprofits generally — in a story called “For a Few Dollars More,” which seems an apt reflecton of the dire situation for the Association, which as of last week, had only raised $13,000 of the $75,000 it needs to stay alive.

When I first read of AIVF’s troubles on indieWIRE’s blogs, I, like many, wondered if it’s time had deservedly come to an end. Maybe the AIVF just wasn’t necessary in the 21st century — and that IFP could take up the slack. But the more I investigated the troubles facing nonprofit media in today’s corporatized world, the more I realized that AIVF — or an organization very much like it — is more necessary now than ever. As the IFP — and most nonprofits — are more beholden to corporate interests than ever before, media artists need someone to look out for them, and their rights — and not just how to get them hooked up with the Weinsteins.

“We are in the middle of a huge fight for the hearts and minds of our nation,” as Alice Myatt told me for the story. “And I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic. The big picture is too harsh. Not just for filmmakers, but for everyone. The public media—be it NPR, public access, PBS—absolutely everything is being squeezed.”

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Noah Harlan

I have been following the past few days of data flowing about AIVF and read the piece on IndieWire and, while I reflexively agree that we should save AIVF, on further consideration I’m not so sure. You, and others, assert that it is necessary now “more than ever” for an organization like AIVF as opposed to the duties of IFP. But what really are they there to do. If they are an advocate for the little guy – what position are they advocating and to whom?

One answer is that they are there to be a clarion call heralding and promoting the works of video artists and ultra-independent filmmakers. If so, then they should embrace that as a purpose and run full speed. If they are to be an educational and mutual support organization then they should do that and do it with great focus and gusto.

Unfortunately AIVF has been adrift. They have been one bit of each of these and ultimately inneffective at all of them. This is not for lack of good intentions but rather they have failed to shed their communal roots and become a purpose-bound organization.

AIVF or any other organization looking to aide filmmakers and our community must figure out their purpose and fight for it, it is not enough to be a renegade organization with a 60’s or 70’s ethos or everyone just getting together…

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