Keep up with new additions to Folkstreams.
National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Features Folkstreams in a
story by veteran reporter Lynn Neary.
Photos for press use are available.
Bios of Participants in the March 11
Show at the American Film Institute Silver show.
Talking Points for Journalists
The site has implications for new media and for our
1- The idea for Folkstreams grew out of attempts by
documentary filmmakers to gain greater exposure for their
films. Although many of these films have won film festival
awards and critical acclaim, they do not fit easily into
mass-market outlets like movie theatres, video shops, and
broadcast and cable television. The films often have odd
lengths, lack "name actors," and sometimes star
people who do not speak "broadcast English." The
Internet, however, links these films to special interest,
"niche" audiences that heretofore could not be
reached easily. The site does not have to be mass marketed
to a specific time slot and channel. The
audience can start out much smaller than
thought economical for broadcast or cable. Because the
films are always available, the audience can build over
time through word of mouth, search engines, and
partnerships with special-interest, academic, and media
2-Folkstreams.net streams films in copyright. These are
streamed at no cost because the filmmakers (1) want the
renewed interest in their life work and (2) believe that
there may be video and stock footage sales once the site
become recognized as "the place" to find folk
life material. Folkstreams.net functions like an easy to
use stock footage house. For example, Tom Davenport sold
footage from his Born For Hard Luck to the
producers of the French feature film
3-The archive is being held and maintained by the
Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North
Carolina in Chapel Hill. Most of this archive is 16mm film
--a stable and long-lived format which can be continuously
adapted to the latest digital streaming schemes.
4- The films are by older, maverick filmmakers and
folklorists who did the work because they loved their
subjects. This work is something that the mainstream
corporate culture paid little attention to. However, the
body of work contains some of the most significant and
artistic documentaries of the 20th century. These films
have been notoriously hard to distribute but now we bring
them to the people.
5- Like the Farm Security Administration photo collection
at the Library of Congress and Folkways Recordings at the
Smithsonian Institute, Folkstreams.net will define
important aspects of our national culture. As the world
culture becomes more homogenized, these films are
important for our national memory. Folkstreams.net is like
a cultural seed bank.
6- The films preserve the style and the context of
enacted folk performance, two keys to the interpretation
of a text, an object, or an event that before the
availability of film could be only incompletely documented
or communicated by text.
7- Since these documentary films have typically given
great weight to what have been called community
scholars-insiders, participants, the real virtuosos
of the traditions shown-they give the viewers access to
authorities they cannot find in academia and rarely find
given voice in books. The films accordingly are extremely
important social and aesthetic documents.
8- The films are also valuable historical documents-not
only because they take the viewers directly into social
worlds (the work, play, struggles, and worship of often
extraordinary ordinary people) now passing more and more
into the historical past, but also because the films
themselves are the products of historical movements and
attitudes. They preserve the life of specific times and
places and also embody the limitations and opportunities,
the ideologies and insights of their makers.
9 - We want those who watch a film on Folkstreams also to be able to
use the site as an introduction to fields new to them. Our goal is
to have each film accompanied by helpful materials prepared by the
filmmaker, folklorists, and others about the making of the film,
the lives of the film subjects, the cultural traditions shown in
the films, suggestions for readings and related websites where they
can explore the material further.