Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AV Festival 08
At AV Festival 08, we will discover that ever since the first experiments in wireless transmission by Nikola Tesla2, broadcasting has been a mechanism to enact social change. The power of broadcasting to shape public behaviour was graphically portrayed in 1938, by dramatist, Orson Welles, in his now legendary adaptation of War of the Worlds. The broadcast blurred the factual format of newscasting, with a fictional story of alien invasion and sparked panic amongst radio listeners. We celebrate the 70th anniversary of this crucial moment in broadcasting history, with a new version of the radio play staged by acclaimed theatre director Joanna Read (Middlesbrough Town Hall, 5 March).
Broadcasting continued to witness and transmit social history with images joining sound on the airwaves, as television became part of public life. AV Festival 08’s screening programme TV at the Cinema brings television to the big screen, showcasing landmark programmes, such as Ken Loach’s pioneering drama Cathy Come Home (Tyneside Cinema, 6 March), a graphic depiction of homelessness which inspired real policy change in 1960s Britain. Later political satire, such as the incendiary Brass Eye (Tyneside Cinema, 8 March), showed how television had become a platform to mock the political establishment. You can voice your own opinion about television, by voting for your favourite show online at our Alternative Top TV poll ( The winning TV show will be shown at a gala screening (Tyneside Cinema, 7 March).
As broadcasting became increasingly ubiquitous, it became not only a means of observing social reality, but also increasingly a mechanism to shape it. Harun Farocki’s Videogram of a Revolution depicts the so-called television revolution in Romania in 1989, where broadcasting played a critical role in the fall of Ceauşescu regime. And politicians’ ruthless manipulation of television is vividly brought to life in Brian Springer’s Spin (both at Star and Shadow Cinema, 5 March).

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