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National Coalition Against Censorship panel following the screening of DESTRICTED

(Cross posted to Tony Comstock’s Kōan of Silence)

On September 23rd the National Coalition Against Censorship held a screening of DESTRICTED and I was invited to sit on a post-screening panel about art and censorship along Amy Adler, Marilyn Minter, Neville Wakefield, & Andrew Hale; and hosted by Svetlana Mintcheva.

As much as anything else, the reason I was invited to speak on the panel is because the same night that DESTRICTED played at the Australian Center for the Moving image (with the de rigueur academic panel discussing line between art and pornography) police were dispatched to the Melbourne Underground Film Festival to stop the world premiere of my film ASHLEY AND KISHA: FINDING THE RIGHT FIT. (ASHLEY AND KISHA went on to win Best Foreign Film and Best Foreign Director.)

I’ll probably have more to say about the experience at a later date, but for now here’s the panel, presented as series of YouTube clips arranged into a playlist. If these sorts of ideas — art, censorship, who is allowed to be heard, and what they’re allowed to say — are important to you, I think you’ll enjoy watching the panel!

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SNEAK PEEK! Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl at Union Docs 10/23

Pre-Release Screening of “Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl” at Union Docs in
Brooklyn, NY
Curated by Colin Weatherby, and followed with a panel discussion exploring cinema,
sexuality, gender, and love with Velvet Park Managing Editor Diana Cage, Cinekink
Film Festival Director Lisa Vandever, and yours truly, Tony Comstock
Saturday, October 23, 7:30PM
322 UNION AVE
BROOKLYN, NY 11211

Official Union Docs Listing

Facebook Event Page

Brett and Melanie Pre-order Page at the Comstock Films DVD Shop

Diana Cage at Velvet Park

Lisa Vandever’s Cinekink Film Festival

I hope I see all of you there!

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Tony Comstock, Live and In Person, One Night Only, National Coalition Against Censorship!

Yes, I know, it’s been a while and this is last minute.

But.

I was just invited to be a panelist at the National Coalition Against Censorship free screening of DESTRICTED, this Monday (9/27) at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Here my event bio:

Tony Comstock is a documentary film director. Subjects of his films have included love, sex, 9/11, indigenous fisheries, hurricanes, refugees, HIV/AIDS orphans, and visualization of God. He is best known for the Real People, Real Life, Real Sex series of erotic documentaries that simultaneously explore the vital role of sexual pleasure in committed relationships and the problematic place of explicit sexuality in cinema. Reaction to these films has ranged from critical and popular praise, to being banned from film festivals and police raids on DVD retailers.

Here are the details:

Web Page for the Event:
http://www.ncac.org/How-Obscene-is-This

SVA Theatre
333 West 23 Street, by 6:00 PM.
Screening 6:30
Panel about 7:35

The event is free and you can RSVP here:
http://decencyclausefilm.eventbrite.com/

Whether or not you can make it to the panel, you can help us make the most out of this event by posting something about it on your blog, your Facebook page, Twittering, or whatever else you do.

And if you do show up, let’s say we all go out for cheesecake after. Sound good? See you there!

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Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story, the YouTube TOS compliant version

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The last film I made that wasn’t about sex.

Sex and religion don’t always play nice. So this might come as a surprise to some readers:

“Sudden Shock: Spiritual Struggle and Renewal in the Wake of 9/11″ is a documentary focusing on the work clergy, chaplains, and other faith-based caregivers have been doing in and around New York City since 9/11. The work takes an emotional and spiritual toll on these men and women, but it has also given them renewed hope and reinvigorated their faith. It’s a small film about a big idea: that love is more powerful than fear.

The rest over at the new blog, Tony Comstock’s Kōan of Silence.

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What’s Happening with Google Instant Didn’t Happen Overnight

New Post at the Kōan of Silence:

“Our has only got worse since then; in some ways the computers programmed to write and evaluate prose are analogous to the computers programmed to securitize and trade mortagages – they are growing large enough to outweigh and destabilize the human activities that provides their reason to exist in the first place.”

The rest at the Safe For Work Blog.

What’s Happening with Google Instant Didn’t Happen Overnight

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My Daughter Swears an Oath

My Daughter Swears an Oath” is the title of today’s post over at the Kōan of Silence.

I know, it’s kind of a pain in the ass to show up here, only to get redirected over to the Kōan. What can I say, except we’re in a period of transition and I hope you’ll stay with us!

Thanks for reading!

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Apologies, and a Promise

First of all, an apology. It’s taken way longer than I thought it would to finish BRETT AND MELANIE and get the DVD released, and I’m sorry.

Some of the problems have been purely technical. The computer that Brett and Melanie was on didn’t survive the trip to and from the islands. Don’t worry! There’s a back-up copy! But when I got back home I was already committed to other projects, ie the demolishing and renovation of our kitchen on a six week deadline.

But more than that, I think BRETT AND MELANIE is a really sweet film, and I’ve been afraid that without a good releasing strategy it wouldn’t get the attention I think it deserves.

So I’ve been keeping my powder dry (i.e. stalling) and trying to come up with (as Hunter S. Thompson would say) a cunning plan.

At the same time I’ve been wrestling with the fact that ComstockFilms.com is a verboten domain, and what that means for our ability to promote our films. (You can see a public rumination on this over at James Fallows’ blog at TheAtlantic.com.)

The good news is that I think I have a plan!

Step one was starting TonyComstock.com, which is (for now) a “Safe” domain. Keeping it that way is going to mean forgoing a certain level of candor about sexuality, and that still bothers me. But it’s not 2003 anymore. NSFW is the new reality on the internet, and if I want people to be able to encounter my ideas, I have to carve out place for myself in the SFW world; and that’s going to mean playing by their rules, not my own. (Never a strong suit for me!)

The second step is where the promise comes in, and the promise is this: help me submit BRETT AND MELANIE: BOI MEETS GIRL to the Motion Picture Association of America, and I promise I’ll finish BEN AND DESIREE.

I know, that’s a weird sort of promise; and what it really is is a plea for your help. The constant stress of never wondering when the next algorithmic shoe is going to drop (the Great Google Sex Catastrophe of 2006 or  the Amazon FAIL 2009), combined with a feeling of hopelessness about the place of the erotic image in our culture (Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose?) have drained my reserves, and I’m asking the people who read this blog and who buy our films to help me.

So can you help?

The answer is over on TonyComstock.com in a post entitled Rating the Ratings Systems: a promotional tactic for a problematic film. We’re going to submit BRETT AND MELANIE to the MPAA, go through the entire ratings process, and write about it so people can see just how it works.

To cover the additional costs of taking this step, we’ve submitted a project proposal to kickstarter.com and hope to hear back from them soon. Just like our fundraisers for Hurricane Katrina and No On Prop 8, people who give to our cause will get some nifty goodies in exchange for giving us their hard-earned money.

You can also help by signing up for our newsletter and following me on twitter, and if you’re a twitterer or blogger, I hope you’ll consider giving this project a shout out.

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New at the Kōan of Silence: The Promise and Price of Living at the Mall.

A few years back, the occasion of Jerry Fawell’s death caused me to remember the one time in my life I’ve been handcuffed (by mall cops) in an essay called How I Got Arrested for Loving a Gay Man. At the conclusion of the essay, I wrote the following:

It turns out that at the same time I was having my little adventure in Eugene there were some interesting court cases trying to figure out what can and can’t get you kicked out of a mall. Stealing will definitely get you kicked out. Wearing a “Dick Cheney is a War Criminal” t-shirt might get you kicked out in some places (probably not Eugene), but you’d probably have a case if you decided sue.

Politely disrupting someone’s mall-sanctioned policitical activities? Well I don’t know if that ever got settled. Mostly what happened is malls stopped giving anyone permission to anyone to do anything in the mall except spend money. There’s a lesson in that, or at least I think there is, even if I don’t know quite what it is.

Three years later, I feel that the meaning of that lesson has become more clear:

Peggy and I were at IKEA today. Both of us really like IKEA. But the more time you spend shopping there, the more you realized the #1 design consideration for *everything* IKEA sells is how much space it takes up in storage and transit. Everything else flows from this consideration, and as wide a variety of stylish, good value proposition goods as you can purchase at IKEA, every last one of them is shape by this one overriding consideration.

That’s sort of how I feel about the internet. Like IKEA, there’s a lot of stuff about it that’s a good value proposition, but there’s also this one overriding design consideration that everything else has to bend to. Yes, search is part it, but it’s just one part of it. And like when I’m shopping at IKEA, when I’m socializing, being “productive” and generally living my life on the internet, I’m (more or less at various times) aware of the way things are bent to the needs of the internet.

The rest over at the Kōan of Silence. Of course the fact that I have moved my writing to a blog specifically design to be Google SafeSearch friendly is part of how we bend who we are, what we do, and what believe to the new digital reality. I hope you’ll take the trouble to click the below link, read the rest, and if you’re moved, perhaps leave a comment about how you’ve changed they way you do things to accommodate the internet.

The Promise and the Price of Living at the Mall

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An Open Letter to Paul Kalina of the Age Concerning Film Censorship in Australia

Dear Paul,

I’ve just read your article in The Age asserting that L.A. Zombie is the first film banned from the Australian festival cirucut since Ken Park in 2003.

This is incorrect

In 2006 the OFLC banned my documentary film Damon and Hunter: Doing it Together from playing at the Sydney QueerDoc International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

In 2007 the OFLC banned my film Ashley and Kisha: Finding the Right Fit from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, along with six other films: 70k Schulmädchen-Report: Was Eltern nicht für möglich halten (aka The Schoolgirl Report), Sex Wish, The Farmer’s Daughter, Whore, and 60 Second Relief

In 2009 the OFLC banned Jennifer Lyon Bell’s Matinee from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.

Perhaps if the Age would do a better job of informing the Australian public about their government’s censorship of films, it wouldn’t happen so often.

Yours,
Tony Comstock

(Cross-posted to Tony Comstock Kōan of Silence)

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