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New Haven Panther: Message to Goddard Alternative Media Conference


1970 00:31:45 United StatesEnglishB&WMono4:31/2" open reel video


Skip Blumberg of the Videofreex conducts an interview with Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, the Lieutenant of Information of the New Haven branch of the Black Panther Party. From the steps of the New Haven headquarters, Cappy publicizes the upcoming Revolutionary Peoples Constitutional Convention set to take place in Washington, D.C. later that week (June 19th, 1970). In addition, Cappy provides a statement to be shared via the Videofreex at the Alternative Media Conference occurring at Godard College in Vermont. His mandate for the alternative media movement includes the demand that white leftists document every political trial happening in the United States. As evidence of the politics of erasure practiced by the “pig media,” and the unjust selection of juries, Cappy speaks of the lack of coverage surrounding the recent trial of Black Panther Lonnie McLucas, one of the “New Haven Nine,” and urges those with access to video equipment to act.

The second half of this tape includes footage of the ground-breaking Alternative Media Conference weekend hosted by Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont in June of 1970. At a concert staged in an open field, the Videofreex use the crowd of predominantly white youths as subjects, experimenting with close-up framing, as well as hard and soft focus to create a document of the event’s communal atmosphere. Following the momentum catalyzed by the unanticipated turnout of 1,700 participants, the conference would lead to the establishment of Goddard College’s still-lively community radio station, WGDR 91.1 FM, which carried on the aspirations of the conference: to create media that “awakens rather than aestheticizes.”

—Faye Gleisser

VDB Videofreex

Videofreex, one of the first video collectives, was founded in 1969 by David Cort, Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Parry Teasdale, after David and Parry met each other, video cameras in hand, at the Woodstock Music Festival. Working out of a loft in lower Manhattan, the group's first major project was producing a live and tape TV presentation for the CBS network, The Now Show, for which they traveled the country, interviewing countercultural figures such as Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.

The group soon grew to ten full-time members--including Chuck Kennedy, Nancy Cain, Skip Blumberg, Davidson Gigliotti, Carol Vontobel, Bart Friedman and Ann Woodward--and produced tapes, installations and multimedia events. The Videofreex trained hundreds of makers in this brand new medium though the group's Media Bus project.

In 1971 the Freex moved to a 27-room, former boarding house called Maple Tree Farm in Lanesville, NY, operating one of the earliest media centers. Their innovative programming ranged from artists' tapes and performances to behind-the-scenes coverage of national politics and alternate culture. They also covered their Catskill Mountain hamlet, and in early 1972 they launched the first pirate TV station, Lanesville TV. An exuberant experiment with two-way, interactive broadcasting, it used live phone-ins and stretched cameras to the highway, transmitting whatever the active minds of the Freex coupled with their early video gear could share with their rural viewers.

During the decade that the Freex were together, this pioneer video group amassed an archive of 1,500+ raw tapes and edits.

In 2001, the Video Data Bank began assembling this unique archive of original 1/2-inch open-reel videos, collecting them from basements and attics where the tapes were stored. A restoration plan was hammered out in 2007 and a distribution contract was signed between VDB and the newly formalized Videofreex Partnership (administered by Skip Blumberg).

The Videofreex Archive, now housed at VDB, chronicles the countercultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The  titles listed here are the first wave of an ongoing project to preserve and digitize important examples of this early video.

More About the Videofreex Archive Preservation

Also see:

Parry Teasdale: An Interview

Videofreex Official Website