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Here Come the Videofreex 

Wednesday, Mar 16 2016
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Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin's documentary Here Come the Videofreex is a paean to the early days of citizen journalism, and a feast for those of us who love the delicious taste of old-school video. The Videofreex were a collective of artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s who were early adopters of the game-changing Sony CV-2400 Portapak, the first portable video camera available to consumers. After a pilot for CBS fell through and living in New York City proved untenable, the Videofreex relocated to the upstate town of Lanesville, where they started a local pirate television station that ran for five years. It's all good stuff — and the initially-hostile Lanesvillians learning to embrace these filthy, camera-wielding hippies is heartwarming — but especially fascinating is the rare video from ground zero of the 1960s counterculture. The footage shot at Woodstock — which focuses on the audience rather than the music, and includes further insight into the famous "brown acid" announcement — as well as interviews with revolutionaries (Fred Hampton, Abbie Hoffman) have a you-are-there authenticity that's lacking from more professional film of the era. Pirate television broadcasts are still illegal, and the YouTube revolution would have happened regardless, but Here Come the Videofreex is still a touching remembrance of people using technology to do the right thing.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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