Tomorrow afternoon in Toronto, a film community will honor the late documentarist Peter Wintonick, in perhaps the best way possible: by screening his work, and helping to complete his final film. Those not residing near Toronto can enjoy his hip and profund '92 doc on Noam Chomsky here.
I'm guessing that the late Peter Wintonick was the kind of dedicated individual who'd love to know that his memorial service is a matinee-movie, and that it will help with the completion of his final work. By way of a best possible introduction, here's the 1992 documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky & The Media, by Mr. Wintonick and co-director Mark Achbar.
Any film about Noam Chomsky shouldn't really be only about an outspoken professor (as he might himself tell you, and does in the film) and any documentarist worth his salt would, of course, take the opportunity to instead cover in detail the actual ideas and issues Chomsky raises and addresses, and Wintonick & Achbar accomplish this, well, in spades.
Utilizing highly poetic info-graphics, time-lapse photography, earnest fact-checking and perfectly apropos campy, vintage footage (including a very cool intermission) this is a hip and profound work which should serve as a primer for any individual interested in discovering for one's self, Mr. Chomsky's (actually quite simple) critical analysis of a world presumed too-far-gone. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky & The Media lives up to its heady title, yet it's also very funny, concise, and boasts a dynamite soundtrack, repping Buffalo Springfield, Laurie Anderson, Talking Heads, a powerful version of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" by Four The Moment, and some dynamite music from Cambodia. The film also includes very funny outtakes during the closing credits.
Since Chomsky can be dense if absorbed in print form, and his work is of course completely mis-categorized as radical when received through the filter of his detractors, once again film comes to the rescue, bridging ideas and action, tackling our presumptions (especially about a watchdog press), providing crucial history lessons (the segment on East Timor is invaluable), and making red pills palatable, and super-hero stunts superfluous.
Which is not to say film does it all: a dogged awareness of one's responsibility as a citizen -- monitoring lawmakers, petitioning same, proposing legislation, supporting candidates, running for office, being willing to protest out in the taxpayer-funded streets -- are absolutely requisite of someone presuming to complain about their elected officials and their society's current state of affairs. This is hardly radical stuff.
By way of an update, it's worth noting that in 2014, Mr. Chomsky's notions of a more conscious and self-determined level of association with governmental structures -- which Chomsky deems necessary -- hardly seem radical; whilst filming global capital-activist Bill Clinton's closing talk at the 2013 CGI summit, I wasn't surprised when I heard him use the Chomsky term "anarcho-syndicalism".
So it's not just the reactionaries citing a certain kind of misguided libertarianism to serve their inchoate, ostensibly conservative aims, who can effectuate change -- or, as I see it, nihilism; those who care about the high-minded principles often equated with liberalism should heed the call to become real citizens, lest the Tea Party, who have done a great job reminding us of exactly how high the stakes are, gain further ground. By way of an additional note, whilst I genuinely admire how faith-based charities have taken up the civic slack as local budgets shrink, I also believe a new secular faith in constructive contributions to one's community, a genuine effort to re-shape that which is not as it should be, into something we can be proud of, whether it be ecological overhauls, updates to social laws and personal liberty, or whatever issues one considers vital, is something we have to work towards, because, well, again, the stakes are higher than ever, and the time is nigh upon us. This simple, urgent message is an admirable accomplishment for which a filmmaker will be acknowledged tomorrow in Toronto, and every time someone watches this film.
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky & The Media will be screened tomorrow Saturday, January 25th at 1PM at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto. Info and tickets can be found HERE
Be Here Now, Mr. Wintonck's final film, will be completed by his colleagues and his daughter, Mira Burt-Wintonick. All funds from tomorrow's screening will go towards the production costs.