Political Film Society
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The Political Film Society, a nonprofit corporation, was formed to recognize the ability of films to raise consciousness of political concerns throughout the world. The Political Film Society gives awards to film directors in order to encourage the industry to make the public more aware of political issues facing the world today.
The Political Film Society was founded in 1986 in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was originally a project of the Hawaii Political Studies Association, but became an independent organization a few years later. The headquarters of the society moved from Honolulu to Hollywood in 1998. That same year the Society became a nonprofit organization, and began publishing film reviews on its website (see external link below). Reviews are reprinted on the website of the International Movie Data Base.
Each year, at an annual meeting of members, three persons are elected to serve on the board of directors. The board, in turn, chooses the President, who is Chief Executive Officer. Political scientist Michael Haas, who serves on the board, has been the CEO of the Political Film Society since its inception and is the Society's President and Secretary. Currently, boardmember Vorathep Sitthitham is Vice President.
Members select the board of directors. Those interested to become members must contact the Society through mail or email to join. Members in good standing are allowed to vote each year on the films up for the awards that the society hands out for the winners. There are around 200 members all over the world.
The Political Film Society awards movies each year with the Political Film Society Awards. These awards are given out to movies in five categories: Political Film Society Award for Democracy, Political Film Society Award for Exposé, Political Film Society Award for Human Rights, Political Film Society Award for Peace, and the occasional Special Award. The awards are nicknamed The Stanley Awards after Stanley M. Castillo, an original member of the Political Film Society's board of directors who died in 1998 due to cancer.
Political Film Review is the main publication of the Political Film Society. Published about twice monthly, the reviews offer insight into the political meaning of feature films. In addition, the organization offers conference papers and syllabi for sale at a nominal cost. Some of the conference papers, along with new scholarly essays, have been included in a book edited by Michael Haas, Hollywood Raises Political Consciousness: Political Messages in Feature Films (2014).
Political Film Review #527 (Latest Blog)
I, DANIEL BLAKE EXPOSES LIFE AMONG THE UNDERCLASS
Director Ken Loach has done it again: He has brought to the screen a slice of life that those who live in comfort never see—but must see if they want to understand how the underclass nowadays tries to survive. The film is about a certain Daniel Blake (played by Dave Johns), who is out of work in Newcastle due to a heart attack. He would like to return to work, and he volunteers at one point as a handyman for a single mother, Katie (Hayley Squires), with two children, who equally seeks a legitimate job. A medical assistant tells Blake hat he cannot work until his heart condition improves. Accordingly, he needs something to live on and tries to apply for public support, only to find the contradictions of the welfare bureaucracy—that he cannot get support unless he applies for work, which he cannot, while denial of benefits means that he must appeal his case to survive. To navigate the system, he is directed to a useless employment seminar and required to file online, but he is not computer literate. At one point, he sells all his possessions for cash to continue living in his now-barren flat. Meanwhile, his friend Katie has similar problems with the bureaucracy, is falsely accused of shoplifting and later is recruited as a prostitute. The humiliations, in short, are many, though the British are exemplarily polite throughout. Bureaucrats who specialize in one phase of welfare just do not know (or in some cases care) what other phases are doing to make the navigation as difficult as possible. At one point, Blake gets a marking pen and writes his name on the wall of the welfare office, stating that he is awaiting an appeal on his case, to the applause of passersby before being escorted and released from the police station. The climax of the film should perhaps be expected but is certainly not desired by filmviewers. The Political Film Society has nominated I, Daniel Blake as best film exposé of 2016. MH