Friday, June 10, 2011

NOTBAD Film Series

            Nevadans Organized To Better Address Diversity (NOTBAD) was the ridiculous name we came up with for the nonprofit that was gonna be a big part of our getting a Low Power FM Radio license from the FCC in the mid 90’s.  It was a goofy acronym that reflected some of our disillusionment and mistrust about how things were going with that process.  After a year of meetings, debates, rallies, and benefit shows we made a lot of noise in the community and raised enough money to start the non-profit but the odds of Free Radio Las Vegas happening became slim over time with the lack of real money being the main issue as it always is in this country. 

            Eventually the idea of a radio station came to a grinding halt and Free Radio Las Vegas became NOTBAD.  As corny as the name sounds it made us a legit cog in the system which gave us a little momentum to continue doing shit for the community, and for kicks.  The name also came to represent our trickster subversive nature and the fundamental reasoning behind FRLV.  It's hard to believe that for all the media outlets there are in Las Vegas there just aren't enough real community voices being heard.  Particularly at that time since there was no cable/community access television in Las Vegas and KUNV had recently changed it’s format silencing a huge portion of the youth voice.  We felt like we were being forced to be an audience to messages that never came close to representing our lives and in the interim we were never given access to the stage.  

            Through a stroke of luck NOTBAD was able to partner with the Las Vegas- Clark County Library District to host an ongoing film series.  This became the main push for NOTBAD and it had some fire behind it with added financial support from the Nevada Arts Council.

            In the beginning I was in charge of programming and so I made it a priority to include the most outlandish controversial films I could find.  But I also wanted to expose Vegas to great works that Vegas residents didn't know about.  This was a direct inspiration from the role KUNV had played in educating me about musical culture when KUNV was at it’s peak in diversity.  I tried to pass that inspiration on in the form of programming good films which were deserving of attention.

            This post spotlights the flyers I made for the series from 2000-2002 because I think we made a positive impact on the community we made some serious statements that I think are worth sharing.  Plus the films are worth checking out.

            I tried to keep the advertising informative and slightly informal as you can see.  Looking back I think some of the writing is just awful on these flyers.  Especially the one for the Kids Are All Right.  It’s embarrassing how bad the text on that one came out.    
        Each month I struggled and juggled to find new themes and pair up films to produce a cohesive program.  It wasn’t always spot on but it was good considering the limited amount of research materials I had and the limitations of our budget.
        At the time the library district had a blanket licensing agreement which allowed us to show any movie we wanted so long as we didn't charge admission and the film was made available for check out through the library.   This was an incredible rare opportunity.  The library still has an ongoing film series but over time they've been forced to narrow the parameters of what can be screened to be within the legal guidelines of motion picture presentation and copyright law.  We were lucky to take full advantage of this window to show some amazing films which are rarely screened anywhere in the world let alone the city of Las Vegas.     
             I always hoped that our series would push the library in the direction of acquiring more significant films for the collection.  These "off the radar" films are still an important part of the collection but for a number of years the library made more of a priority of obtaining multiple copies of first run hollywood films which made the library almost seem like a glorified Blockbuster video.  Now that the library has a new executive director let's hope they start stocking more intelligent fare.

            I wasn’t always a fan of all these films but I respected the work that we presented.  An example I give is the film Fando and Lis by Alehandro Jodorowsky.  To this day I will admit that I don’t exactly like this film.  It’s ugly and incredibly dark.  But I respect the film.  Fando and Lis was only the second film we showed at the very beginning of the series!  We had over 100 people in attendance when we started the film and over half the audience walked out.  I think it’s a true measure of how powerful the art is if it can induce that kind of a reaction.  Even if it's a negative reaction.  

      The films shown above in the series "The Glory of War... The Horror of War" were perhaps our greatest achievement in blatant protest.  These films were shown a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq.  Come and See is an incredible film.

            I've almost completely stopped watching movies all together.  I find I just don’t have the time or I’m not willing to make time unless someone gives me a recommendation.  Here’s a few films I’d recommend watching if you got the time.  

          Enough praise and thanks cannot be heaped onto Kristy Price, Suzanne Scott, the Las Vegas- Clark County Library District, and the Nevada Arts Council for supporting this program and understanding it's value to the Las Vegas community.


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