IN CELEBRATION OF ART AND CRAFTMANSHIP
Early on in the week, I attended a party celebrating the
premiere on Discovery Times of OFF TO WAR, a DCTV project
following the Arkansas National Guard nto Iraq. The event
was held at DCTV, headquartered in a reconditioned firehouse
which is the oldest surviving firehouse in New York. It houses
Jon Alpert?s eclectic organization which produces films and
teaches young people to be videographers and editors. Energetic
staff members slide down the brass fire pole when they want
to make a quick descent from the second floor.
Craig Renaud was there, one of the team making the film,
fresh from Iraq, getting ready to go to Arkansas to continue
following the families of the soldiers in Baghdad. As I stepped
out on the rooftop to join the party, Craig came up to me
to thank me for my help.
He was as young as I remembered.
He, thankfully, did not look the worse for wear. We talked;
I congratulated him on the film he, his brother Brent and
Jon Alpert are creating. Before the screening started I slipped
away so that I could watch the show on air at home.
Brent sent me an e-mail from Baghdad. No one ran anymore
for the bunkers at night when the mortar shells fell randomly
into the encampment; sleep was too precious to be disturbed.
He figured that when someone died again everyone would bunker
down for a few days ? and then get careless again. His note
had the sound of a dedicated but sleep deprived journalist.
The CINE AWARDS were on Thursday evening. I am on the Board
and close to two of the organization?s sponsors, ClearChannel
and BBC Technology.
CINE is an organization that has been giving awards for film
and video excellence for forty five years. Unlike ATAS or
AMPAS, it is not a membership organization.
The glittering part of the evening were the awards given
to individuals for their outstanding career achievement.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sharon Percy Rockefeller,
CEO of WETA [think Ken Burns and The News Hour], wife of Senator
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. The Trail Blazer Award went
to D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, who made the film THE
WAR ROOM and were cinema verite pioneers, having influenced
now a generation of film makers. The third major award, the
Leadership Award, went to Stanley Nelson, a winner of the
MacArthur Foundation ?Genius? Award and the film maker who
made THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL, which garnered an Emmy Award
It was an evening of film makers and their passions, awarded
and rewarded for their dedication to their art. These are,
for the most part, not the high paid ?Hollywood? types but
film makers who dedicate themselves to messages they want
to communicate through visual imagery ? a touching film following
AIDS in Africa, several that dealt with the emotional aftermath
of 9/11, stories about the war in Iraq, stories of coming
of age and self-revelation.
These are the people who feed the machine of cable channels
and network news programs, peppering film festivals with their
work. It is a celebration of artistic success and the hard
working application of a craft learned by watching previous
CINE winners work.
DCTV won a CINE Award this year for TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT,
a documentary made for PBS and, hopefully, will be back again
next year to collect one for OFF TO WAR.
The week has been a celebration of the passion of the craft
of film makers who devote portions of their lives to a topic
that demands something from them. It has been a celebration
of the work of the Renaud brothers and the year of their lives
that will go into documenting the ANG; it has been a celebration
of all their fellows who do the same for stories that are
as important to them as Arkansas is to the brothers Renaud.
It was a time for those of us who facilitate or just appreciate
their work to step up and applaud, to acknowledge hard work
and craftsmanship, to salute talent that often goes unrecognized
Bravo to those who pick up their cameras and follow their