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MediaRights Launches the Fifth Annual MEDIA THAT MATTERS FILM FESTIVAL

at BAMcinematek and Online June 1 Presented by Loreto Bay Company

Sam Seder of Air America Radio's 'Majority Report' Hosts Awards Ceremony at HBO May 26

Netflix, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation, Utne Magazine and Others Sponsor Yearlong Outreach and Distribution Campaign for Festival's Inspiring Short Films

NEW YORK, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- MediaRights, a Project of Arts Engine, launches its fifth annual MEDIA THAT MATTERS FILM FESTIVAL with premiere screenings at BAMcinematek and an online launch June 1. HBO's Manhattan headquarters will also host a VIP awards ceremony celebrating the winning filmmakers work on May 26. Sixteen provocative, short, social-issue films make up this year's festival and range from fast-paced musical animations to insightful personal documentaries that offer new perspectives on the war in Iraq, racial identity, global warming, gay rights, civil liberties, sustainable agriculture/development, drug addiction and more.

The festival includes a year-long program of web streaming, DVD distribution and screenings around the country intended to connect audiences to inspiring, independently and youth-produced short films that spark debate and action. Tickets to the June 1 premiere screenings at BAMcinematek are $10 and are available at the BAM Box Office (718.636.4100) or through http://www.movietickets.com/ .

The fifth annual MEDIA THAT MATTERS FILM FESTIVAL is produced by MediaRights, an organization dedicated to maximizing the impact of social- issue documentaries by connecting filmmakers, educators, nonprofits and youth. The festival is presented by Loreto Bay Company, a real estate developer dedicated to sustainability.

A jury of media professionals, activists and filmmakers met in February to choose the sixteen official selections that make up this year's slate of films out of a pool of over four hundred and fifty submissions from around the country. The jury included Morgan Spurlock, Director of Super Size Me, Tia Lessin, Producer of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sean Wilsey of McSweeney's, as well as librarian Jessamyn West (Librarian.net) and teen filmmakers from Manhattan Neighborhood Network's Youth Channel.

"We were thrilled to double our number of submissions from last year," said Katy Chevigny, Executive Director of Arts Engine, Inc. "There is an increasing demand for independent media, and we've found the most entertaining, timely and innovative work out there. We can't wait to bring these vital perspectives to audiences around the country."


The sixteen short films tackle topics such as: politics and civic engagement (Battleground Minnesota, Pizza Surveillance Feature), the war in Iraq and military recruitment (All That I Can Be), media policy and the digital divide (The News Is What We Make It, Laptop), gay rights (A Girl Named Kai, Homecoming), juvenile justice (Bad Choices, System Failure), drug addiction (Happy Ending), global warming and transportation alternatives (Neglected Sky, Fast and Reliable), sustainable agriculture/development (Young Agrarians, World on Fire, The Luckiest Nut in the World) and racial identity and tolerance (Something Other Than Other). (Please see official selections below for full descriptions of festival films and awards.)


The sixteen festival shorts were produced by independent filmmakers from around the United States as well as some from Canada and the U.K. They include a mix of men and women, adults and youth, African-Americans, Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans, and gay, straight and transgender individuals. Filmmakers include teenager Chris Johnson, aka Shakademic, a hip-hop artist from Minneapolis, who talks politics and music with former Vice President Walter Mondale in his film Battleground Minnesota; agricultural activist Johanna Divine, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Fellow from Flagstaff, Arizona who profiles the next generation of farmers in Young Agrarians; Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan whose music video World on Fire is a call to invest in development in impoverished countries.

Noteworthy this year is a large number of films made by teenagers: Battleground Minnesota, All That I Can Be, Homecoming, Bad Choices, Happy Ending and Neglected Sky.


On Thursday, May 26th comedian Sam Seder, co-host of Air America Radio's "Majority Report," will host an awards ceremony for the filmmakers at HBO's Manhattan headquarters. All sixteen films will be honored with awards and $10,000 in cash grants will be distributed to select filmmakers. Additionally, Netflix is providing 6-month subscriptions to their online DVD rental service to all 16 filmmaking teams. Ms. McLachlan is expected to accept her award via remote video conferencing.

Other events include an invitation-only VIP Party for festival supporters at DEKK in Tribeca on the evening of Wednesday, May 25 and the "Media In Action Coalition-Building Workshop" at the International Center for Tolerance Education in DUMBO on Friday, May 27.

The "Media in Action Coalition-Building Workshop" is a day-long workshop connecting festival filmmakers with nonprofit workers and educators working for social change. Filmmakers will present their work and their goals for making an impact, while the nonprofits will identify tactics through which they can utilize the films to reach new audiences and galvanize their constituencies. Educators will explore ways in which the films can enhance their curricula and inspire their students to become engaged citizens. Active partnerships will be established and participants will walk away with concrete ideas for collaborative events and actions that harness the power of the Media That Matters Film Festival films. Participating organizations include Indyvoter, Free Press, New Visions for Public Schools. Guest presenters include Clay Shirky, internet culture commentator, and Robert McChesney, media reform author and activist.

At the Wednesday, June 1 premiere at BAMcinematek, the films will be screened at 7 p.m., and audiences will have an opportunity to meet filmmakers and get involved with the issues at a Take Action table in the theatre lobby. An encore screening will take place the same night at 9:20 p.m.

Also on June 1st, all sixteen festival films will begin streaming online for a full year at http://www.mediathatmattersfest.org/ . Visitors to the site will be able watch the films and take action via links that empower them to volunteer, sign petitions, write to Congress, or donate to key organizations. The site will include a highly-trafficked news blog (over 500,000 visits last year) that will connect the films to current events and alert visitors about upcoming screenings, new resources and opportunities to take action throughout the year.


The Presenting Sponsor of the fifth annual Media That Matters Film Festival is Loreto Bay Company.

Other festival sponsors include: Activators - Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation, Netflix, Utne magazine; Motivator - HBO; Celebrators - Paola Freccero, Frank Marshall, Marcia Brady Tucker Foundation, Oxfam America; Initiators - DEKK, Docurama, Alexander Summer Family Foundation, Filmmaker Magazine, Time Warner Inc; Underwriting from - National Endowment for the Arts, Third Millennium Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Additional underwriting from - Benton Foundation, Expedia Media LLC, Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, New York State Council on the Arts.

Principal Partner - Human Rights Watch International Film Festival; Additional partners - Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, Alliance for a Media Literate America, Bay Area Video Coalition, Center for Social Media, Creative Commons, Magnatune, National Council of Teachers of English.


The Media That Matters Film Festival is produced by MediaRights, an organization that builds the capacity of community organizations and filmmakers to reach, teach, activate, and educate their constituencies. MediaRights promotes the exhibition of documentaries in non-traditional venues and puts filmmakers in touch with new audiences. Equipped with the nation's most comprehensive database of politically and socially engaged films and videos, MediaRights provides educators and activists with the tools they need to create video curricula, curate audio/visual collections and use film more effectively in the classroom and in lobbying campaigns. More than 30,000 users visit MediaRights each month making the site one of the most vibrant online centers for community/filmmaker collaborations. MediaRights and the Media That Matters Film Festival are projects of Arts Engine, Inc., a nonprofit organization.

For more information about MediaRights, visit http://www.mediarights.org/ or call 646-230-6288.


Arts Engine, Inc. supports, produces, and distributes independent media of consequence and promotes the use of independent media by advocates, educators and the general public. By fostering the production and use of independent film, video and new media, Arts Engine connects media makers and active audiences in order to spur critical consideration of pressing social issues.

Source: MediaRights

CONTACT: Terence Womble
(917) 216-3251
Miyuki Jokiranta
(646) 230-6288

Web site: http://www.mediarights.org/

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