(Originally aired: 02-01-99)

 

  

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MONDAY MAY 26

(Originally aired: 07-31-08)

GEORGE C. STONEY

(1916 - 2012 RIP)

Professor: Film/TV - N.Y. University

Tisch School of the Arts

Award Winning Director:

All My Babies

Pioneer Public Access Cable Television Activist

Stalwart Board Member:

Manhattan Neighborhood Network

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George C. Stoney, Documentary

 

Filmmaker, Dies at 96 !!!!!

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www.mnn.org

gcs1@nyu.edu

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The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=KY0IKqf3Jgg - GEORGE STONEY

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More about: GEORGE C. STONEY

 

George C.

 

Stoney,

 

Documentary

 

Filmmaker

 

, Dies at 96

George C. Stoney, a dean of American documentary film and a leader of the citizens movement that gave every American the right to a public-access television show of his or her own, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 96.

Philip Pocock, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

George C. Stoney’s documentary “All My Babies” was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry in 2002.

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His death was announced by his daughter, Louise Stoney.

Mr. Stoney, who taught filmmaking at New York University from 1970 until the last year of his life, was acclaimed in equal measure for his roles as a filmmaker, teacher and prophet of social change at the barrel of a camera.

Besides mentoring two generations of students, many of whom became prominent in the film industry, Mr. Stoney devoted himself to training community activists in the use of film as a tool for voiceless people. His role in the creation of public-access television was rooted in a hope that it would become an outlet for that kind of community-building documentary film.

His 50 documentaries included “Occupation,” about Canadian The Uprising of ’34” (1995), about the brutal legacy of a textile workers strike crushed by factory owners; and “All My Babies,” (1953), a film originally commissioned by the Georgia Department of Public Health to educate midwives working in poverty-stricken rural areas. It became a classic. students who took over a McGill University building in 1970; “

In filming “All My Babies,” Mr. Stoney, the son of a North Carolina preacher, met all the safe-practices requirements demanded by the health department. But in the hope of better transmitting the information to a largely illiterate audience, he recruited a 51-year-old midwife named Mary Coley to play the protagonist in a series of dramatic re-enactments. The movie, which includes a 15-minute sequence showing a live birth, was widely considered a propaganda masterpiece, in the best sense. It became a staple of medical school curriculums, and was distributed by Unesco and the World Health Organization.

In 2002 the film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, a list that essentially defines the American film canon. It appears on the list alphabetically, between “All About Eve” and “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

Mr. Stoney had only recently joined the faculty of New York University’s film school in 1971 when he helped found the Alternate Media Center, a university project for training students and community members how to use video cameras, a technology that was new at the time. That project led to his interest in another newly emerging medium — cable television — and the opportunity its vastly expanded spectrum presented for grass-roots filmmaking.

With other media-savvy activists, including his Media Center co-founder, Red Burns, Mr. Stoney helped create the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers, which began lobbying industry and government regulatory agencies. If cable companies were going to put their cables beneath or above public streets, they argued, they should be required to give citizens a share of the new cable broadcast spectrum — public access. That requirement was added to federal communications law in 1984.

“There would be no public access if not for George Stoney,” said Rika Welsh, another early member of the cable programmers lobbying federation and a board member of Cambridge Community Television, the public-access operator in Boston. “He understood what it could be, and believed in its potential to bring communities together.”

In an interview several years ago (on a public-access show), Mr. Stoney said public-access television was not just about public access. “We look on cable as a way of encouraging public action, not just access,” he said. “It’s how people can get information to their neighbors, and their neighbors can get out on the streets to organize.”

In a separate interview, he said public access was never meant to “make anybody famous.” Its goal, in fact, was kind of the opposite: “To celebrate the ordinary things people do to help one another.”

George Cashel Stoney was born on July 1, 1916, in Winston-Salem, N.C., and worked his way through the University of North Carolina, earning degrees in English and history. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and received certification in film education at the University of London. He worked as a field research assistant in the South for civil rights groups in the 1940s, was a photo intelligence officer during World War II and afterward worked as a newspaper reporter. He made films for state government agencies before beginning his own film company.

In addition to his daughter, Louise, his survivors include a son, James; a sister, Elizabeth Segal; one granddaughter; and a great-granddaughter.

In one of his last interviews, he was asked if his “prime purpose in life now” was in the area of cable access or documentary filmmaking.

“Well,” he replied, “my prime concern now is my family and my friends. Politics is important. But my primary interest is in the people who are around me. I’m always a bit suspect when people lose their roots in their family and in their community.”

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MONDAY MAY 26, 2014

(11:00 AM - NOON / (NYC Time)

Individual programs can be viewed each week day

                 Channel 34 of the Time/Warner & Channel 82 of the RCN 
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