Film News: ‘Here Comes the Videofreex’ Panel Talk at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center on May 19, 2016

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CHICAGO – What made the 1960s the petri dish for the counterculture had to do with many of that movement’s participants trying new things in the “underground.” When Sony released its first home video capability in 1968, many like-minded individuals – who wanted to use the technology to gather alternative news – set out to change the world. The result is a new documentary, “Here Comes the Videofreex.” The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago will offer a premiere screening and panel discussion on May 19th, 2016. For details, click here.

’Here Come the Videofreex’ at the Gene Siskel Film Center
Photo credit: Gene Siskel Film Center

The archives that spawned the video footage, some of which hasn’t been seen since it was actually taped, is the Video Data Bank (VDB). The VBD is a preservationist arm of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and a panel talk after the documentary screening will discuss the project, which includes Executive Director Abina Manning, Archive/Collection Manager Tom Colley and one of the Videofreex themselves, Tom Weinberg. Weinberg was instrumental in getting the original radical videographers to go to the 1972 Republican National Convention and provide alternative coverage.

“Here Come the Videofreex” chronicles one of those 1960s hidden movements (The Videofreex) that gratefully has come to light again. The preservation efforts of the VBD has restored a nearly 50 year old archive of one-inch videotape – the first bulky attempt at home video – and directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin stitched together a compelling document of unearthed interviews and reports regarding Abbie Hoffman, Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, the Woodstock music festival and the politics at the ’72 Republican Convention. The grainy quality of that particular brand of video is unique in its own way, casting a ghostly black & white image like a demented time machine, making these icons come alive again in a new way.

The Gene Siskel Film Center is part of the School of the Art Institute, which also includes the efforts of the VDB. Like early film stock preservation over the years, the old video formats are even more prone to be lost, because of storage and disintegration issues. The aim of the VDB is to make these vital glimpses into the past available for scholars and the public alike. “Here Comes the Videofreex” is a prime example of their efforts, and the VDB has even more video gems for study.

“Here Comes the Videofreex” will premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 North State Street, Chicago – at 8pm on May 19th, 2016, followed by a panel discussion. For more information about the efforts of the Video Data Bank (VDB) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

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