Jenny Raskin and Jon Nealon’s chronicle of a pioneering video collective had its debut at Full Frame last year. Screenings followed at BAMcinemaFest, Woods Hole, FilmColumbia, DOK Leipzig, St Louis, Rotterdam, and the upcoming Big Sky and Cinequest fests.
In 1969, the emergence of handheld video cameras promised a revolution in journalism, and the Videofreex heeded the call. As revealed in Raskin and Nealon’s affectionate history, the ragtag assemblage of young would-be reporters began shooting anything and everything, eventually coming to the attention of a young CBS News executive who saw their potential to capture the burgeoning counterculture movement. Outfitting them with an RV and financing, the Videofreex set out across the country to shoot interviews for a pilot, which included Abbie Hoffman in the midst of the Chicago 8 trial, Black Panther Fred Hampton just weeks before his murder, and Woodstock attendees. When the network got cold feet, the collective was forced to go it alone, setting up shop in Soho until financial considerations led to a relocation to upstate New York, where they created a pirate television station that covered decidedly less radical topics. With extensive footage thats equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking, this fascinating film gives these mavericks their long overdue moment in the sun.