Sunday, March 6, 2016

Here Come the Videofreex (2015)

A look at the Videofreex, a group of people who came together in the late 1960's with portable video equipment in order to record the world as it really was. They caught the attention of a CBS executive who hired them to cover the stories the rest of the media was ignoring. Traveling the country they interviewed all sorts of people including Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther Fred Hampton preserving sounds and images that might have been lost to history. After a break with CBS they struggled to have their programs seen, before coming up with a unique way of distributing their material.

This is a good portrait of  a group of men and women who were decades ahead of the curve in regard to news reporting as well as shooting everything that they saw. When I say that the Freex shot everything it seems they really did as we see records of them talking about what they are doing, editing their programs and even watching them. The result is an often fascinating look into a time gone by.  Through their footage we see life in New York and around the country from a regular person's eye since we are really there without edits with the camera running.

And the fact that they kept the cameras running is kind of the films weakness. Watching the story unfold you cant help but feel there is way too much material of the Freex shooting themselves. We didn't need to see all they shot of them talking, and working and joking and watching and everything else. A little goes a long way and I kind tuned out abut 20 minutes in since I really didn't care about them doing, I wanted to see what they did. I wanted more of the interviews and the coverage of events. I didn't need to see the whole of the breaking into CBS to get their tapes back.

I'm not sure where the Freex belong in the history of television and documentary filmmaking but they are a definite important starting point, not only for some of what they shot, the aforementioned Hoffman and Hampton material is invaluable, but also because they foreshadowed the world where everyone is shooting everything about their lives.

HERE COMES THE VIDEOFREEX is a good little film and worth your time when it opens in NYC on the 9th

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