First Run Features Gets (Even More) Political with New Online "Community"
by Brian Brooks
With the Iowa presidential caucus less then 70 days away and the general election now slightly less than one year from now, one indie distributor has stepped into the political fray with a new website designed to both act as a meeting place for people concerned with the U.S. government's role in the "war on terror" and its occupation of Iraq, as well as providing a vehicle to market its library of politically-themed film. First Run Features has launched a new section called "FRF Community" on its redesigned website (www.firstrunfeatures.com).
"[First Run Features] president Seymour Wishman was interested in seeing how we could bring political titles to the forefront in light of the current political situation," commented First Run's new director of business affairs Cleo Godsey in a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. "It will be a site where people can go and it will be a curated space, where they can have a coherent, or maybe non-coherent (laughs), discussion on issues." Godsey went on to say that the company receives numerous requests for its catalogue of political titles, which it will make available through the new site.
Also, FRF Community will have an extensive list of links to other websites related to topics spotlighted, including sites on political activism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and more. Visitors to the site will be encouraged to participate through letters to the editor for web publication, and a monthly email newsletter which will be sent free to people joining the FRF Community.
Included in the library of over 200 political and war-related films are "The Architecture of Doom" (Peter Cohen), "Berkeley in the Sixties" (Mark Kitchell), "Fidel" (Estela Bravo), "Power & Terror: Noam Chomsky in our Time" (John Junkerman), and "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" (Eugene Jarecki). Additionally, the site will feature recent interviews with directors relating their work to current issues. One of the first directors to be spotlighted is Kitchell who relates his film set during the student rebellion at U.C. Berkeley in the '60s to the current situation today.
Godsey commented that First Run does support a position that's generally counter to the prevailing political winds at the moment. "Our objective, especially with the political film series, is to push for the political left of center, and to galvanize interest against the current political wave," Godsey added. She also commented that First Run is able to take a position politically because it is a small independent company not beholden to a larger corporate entity.
"We're a small company, but we feel we can have a strong voice and still have a strong presence. And [being] online is a great place to have a powerful voice, even with little money." To bring traffic to the new site, First Run is offering a 25% discount on all catalogue items as well as a holiday sale of 30-40% off of selected items in the categories of family, Jewish, and films about faith, among others.
First Run Features was formed in 1979 with the release of the Oscar-nominated film "The War at Home." Its associate company, First Run/Icarus Films, offers over 900 films for the educational market.