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Review of "This Time We Fight", a pdx indymedia video i saw tonight

Tonight i went to the pdx indymedia video showing at It's a Beautiful Pizza (where it happens the last Monday of every month). i brought along two videos i'd edited myself from other people's footage, about Buy Nothing Day and Fur Free Friday, events that both happened last Friday. i was pretty happy with the work i had done, but once again, i was blown away and pleasantly humbled by Cat's video work. With every new video she makes, it seems, she sets a higher bar of quality. i totally steal her tricks and techniques whenever i can (and i had done so with one of the videos i brought to the showing), but as soon as i do, she's moved on, and gone to a better place already. Along with the work that other videoistas do, new territory is being explored where Corporate Media never goes. It's really inspiring.

But let me get back to "This Time We Fight", which is Cat's video about the protests in Portland on Nov. 3, the day after the sElection. It's f'n brilliant and let me tell you why...
"This Time We Fight" opens like many pdx indymedia videos about protests, with footage of speakers at the rally before the march. Cat keeps this section tight on this video, showing us only the heart of each person's message, without letting them ramble. Some make specific points about particular facts, others are more purely emotional. Both are means of expression that are true. The only place she strays from traditional newsy style is with a particular speaker who shouts "Hell No!" as a recurring refrain. Here, she applies solarization or some similar effect, and stutters the voice for emphasis. Using effects like that is risky; you're right on the line of being cheesy, but she just pulls it off. It's later in the video, though, with the street action, that Cat really shines.

The second part of the video occurs at night. Video cameras that activists own don't always perform so good under poor lighting, which is too bad, since that's when the cops often break out the violent tactics. Footage shot at night is often murky, indistinct, and features bright streaks from light sources. That's the kind of footage that Cat got on Nov. 3, but she takes those lemons and makes lemonade. Instead of attempting to give us a straight-up representational account of the night with material that wouldn't perform well for that purpose, she dives into presentationalism, instead. Cross-fading among foggy crowd shots, dark blurs of cops, and the bright tracers of headlights, she creates an expressionistic collage of visuals that is at once abstract and lucid.

For anyone who's been to a cop v. protester demo downtown, the visual disorder she paints is not confusing, it is entirely evocative. That is, when the pepper-spray gets busted out, the motorcycles start zooming through crowds, and the guy or gal next to you gets grabbed, it's intense, and not necessarily crisp. You're hearing this and seeing that, times ten, in half a dozen different places at once, and no wonder if you have trouble explaining to someone else later *exactly* what happened. In "This Time We Fight", Cat has produced the most accurate visual representation of that keyed-up, wound-up, let-me-out experience that we've all had out there.

i saw the roots of this video in "A22" (about the 2002 Bush protest), on which i was graced to collaborate with her; the cop-attack scenes in there are a chaotic miasma of shouts and spray. The camera takes the blow, bows under the pressure, and stumbles amidst the confusion to show a perfect picture of enraged panic. "Fuck!" is the word you hear most, and what other word works then? When you're so angry and so stung? But with "This Time We Fight" she carries it further. If a protest were a Jackson Pollack painting, Cat rides you over every blump and splurge of pain, anger, and agitated disconnection. What is the sense in how cops strike? Cat has her theories, but when it comes to non-analytical description, i don't think there's any one better at simply projecting you into that electrified space between the hammer and the anvil and making you feel the charge. At the end of "This Time We Fight", i was at once beaten down *and* exhillarated and isn't that how you always feel after a cop v. protester action?

All i can say, really, is "the horses". Shit. You just gotta see this thing. Her use of cop horse footage was like a Bosch painting animated. The clip-clop of hooves set to slowed-down silhouettes was a vision from Hell. And where is it we're going, anyway?

The corporate media goes for the blood when they shoot. Show-me-the-fight, give-me-the-shooting-match, expose-your-dark-side. With this video, and all of her work, Cat gives us the *heart* instead. Those folks at KGW, KOIN, et-fucking-c., have a lot to learn from her. The best of 'em claim they're "trying to change it from the inside". Cat shows that the only *real* way to go is from The Outside. That's where the action is. And with "This Time We Fight", she sets a new standard in the indymedia world (already far outside where the corporate media could ever go) for how to report from the street. F'n big-ass props to you, Cat. You rock!


Unfortunately, i can't name a date/place for when you can see "This Time We Fight" and other pdx indy videos yourself. i'll let ya know, though, that folks are planning a 2004 indy video retrospective for sometime in January, hopefully at the Clinton Street Theater or someplace else big, and i'll definitely make sure that this amazing video is included. You gotta see it. It'll show you what journalism is *really* about.
I'd like to see it 30.Nov.2004 00:33


Can I make a gentle plea to have this posted on the web?

*Spark* is a teaser :-) 30.Nov.2004 01:43


Ok Spark! I REALLY WANT TO SEE IT!!!! You are such a tease :-) You go on about what a great job Cat did on this video but you don't tell us when we can see it except for in January. I don't want to wait that long!!! I have got to see yet another masterpiece that Cat has made very soon. The anticipation is KILLING me! How Can We See "This Time We Fight?" before January?????

thanks for the review 30.Nov.2004 06:08


thanks for the review!

mad love,

genre 30.Nov.2004 07:15

a reader

I'm not trying to demean the intent or sincerity of the filmmakers involved, but -- is the protest video a genre of its own now? Has street protest turned into an aestheticized ritual performance?

is the protest video a genre of its own now? 30.Nov.2004 08:26


No, it's like mad's snappy answers to stupid questions, except your too busy analyzing aestheticized ritual performances to see that clearly. Put down your sociology books and find those books by Mad and you will have all the answers to your questions.

Aw Shux! 30.Nov.2004 10:53



Wow, thanks Sparkle! I don't even know what to say.

Just as an aside to any civil rights lawyers who might be getting some free time soon (due to the recent $300,000 settlement against the city for their shameless participation in the global class war), I wanna add that we actually do have some very clear footage of the actions of November 3rd as well. I felt that the chaotic, murky footage gave a better impression of the night, but should there be a need, BlankMan and I would be more than willing to make available crisp, clear copies of the urban assault to any of the people who were attacked by minions of the corporate police state in our view, and/or their lawyers. (Smile, Officer Jacobellis.)

And wow...thanks again, Sparkle.

When can I see this 01.Dec.2004 17:44

victim of the police system elfuego662@yahoo.com

I was arrested unjustly. I desperetly need any footage of the protest for proof in a court case. Honestly can our police system get any worse. They arrested me for standing on the curb and I may need proof for my case so any video recording of this if spotted would be excellent. Please I'm relying on this. Just reply back on this board or call me if necessary.

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