The Image Formed
Previewing the 12th Austin Film Festival

Pirate Radio USA

D: Jeff Pearson, Mary Jones
Driven by the ingenuity that DIY conditions demand, this subversively cheery documentary gives an A-to-Z primer on low-power radio broadcasting. But as the filmmakers would readily admit, they are not out merely to entertain but to provoke viewers to action. By charting how radio started as an open medium, how it fell into corporate hands, and how federal agencies meant to protect the public good have set their sights elsewhere, it’s clear the filmmakers are on a mission. Even NPR doesn’t get by unscathed. But Pirate Radio USA is much more than a leftist tantrum. What started as a documentary about existing pirate radio stations before the FCC completely snuffed them out, serendipitously shows citizen journalism at its best when the filmmakers find themselves on the ground at the 1999 WTO demonstrations. This alternate facet, ignored in the mainstream media, is the film’s best argument for its cause. – B.A.

10/19, 9:30pm, Hideout; 10/25, 9:15pm, Hideout