San Francisco, CA (December 5, 2005) – Reaching out to Americans hungry for change at the local multiplex and on the national stage, Ironweed, a new kind of DVD-of-the- month club, is launching today with dual agendas of entertainment and provocation.
By championing edgy, entertaining independent films bypassed by a timid Hollywood establishment, Ironweed will offer movies as a rallying point for Americans who share progressive values -- and who have watched in frustration as conservatives have successfully used pop culture to advocate and organize.
Spearheaded by Adam Werbach, one of the nation’s most influential young progressive leaders, Ironweed was partly inspired by the success of films like Fahrenheit 9/11, the highest-grossing documentary in history, and the current WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price. According to Werbach, both films used grassroots organizing and screening parties to build audiences, connect like-minded Americans, and put a national spotlight on issues ignored by politicians and the mainstream media.
A provocateur and entrepreneur, Werbach is no stranger to controversy. Having made history in 1996 as the Sierra Club’s youngest-ever president at age 23, Werbach sparked a national debate after the 2004 elections with a controversial speech calling for “the death of environmentalism.”
“Ironweed is not just about getting overlooked films into the hands of audiences. It’s about providing an opportunity for like-minded people to connect, socialize, and talk about these great films and the questions they raise,” said Werbach. “We think that highly entertaining, seriously provocative films can become a rallying point for Americans who believe that today’s mainstream culture and politics are failing to serve the country well.”
Werbach added that Ironweed will leverage the social power of film in much the same way conservatives have used social organizations like churches and civic groups to both shape American culture and strengthen its movement.
In a massive grassroots marketing mobilization, leading progressive organizations including MoveOn, Music for America, TrueMajority.org, Working Assets, and The Nation are inviting members to join Ironweed as charter members .
To become an Ironweed member, visit www.ironweedfilms.com. Subscriptions range from $14.95 (monthly) to $160 (annual). Holiday gift subscriptions are also available for $44.85 - $160.
Ironweed was launched by Act Now Productions, a San Francisco-based production company founded by Werbach that has produced innovative video, online, and music projects for clients ranging from John Kerry for President to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Each month starting this December, Ironweed members will receive a package that includes:
• Exclusive special-edition DVD with an award-winning feature film, short films and extras that are thematically linked
• Limited-edition background materials by filmmakers and Ironweed partners that explore issues like immigration, globalization, and religious tolerance in depth
• Easy and simple guidelines for hosting screening parties
• Organizing tools that enable members to connect with local members and organizations or create a local grassroots Ironweed Film Club chapter.
To make it easy for members to connect, Ironweed’s website will feature an online community where members can search for nearby Ironweed subscribers, share photos and news from local Ironweed events, discuss their favorite films, and debate pressing issues.
The centerpiece of Ironweed’s December debut package – built around the theme of “Boundaries” -- is Wetback, an award-winning documentary by Arturo Perez Torres that follows two Nicaraguan immigrants as they travel to America. It will be accompanied by Where is Iraq?, a short film that chronicles the confusion and anger of ordinary Iraqis exiled in Jordan after the American invasion of Iraq, and Terminal Bar, a film about one of New York City’s roughest bars by Stefan Nadelman, which was described “as perhaps the best short film ever” by the head of the Sundance Film Festival selection committee.
Seeking to move the issue of immigrant labor out of the shadows, the December package will also include a vial with water illegally taken directly from the Rio Grande River – and packed into Ironweed member kits by immigrant workers hired by Ironweed.
Upcoming Ironweed selections include Power Trip, a Berlin Film Festival-winning comedy that follows an American company that buys the energy systems in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and Seoul Train, a powerful film that uncovers the modern-day underground railroad helping North Korean refugees escape persecution.
“Ironweed champions fearless, funny, and forward-thinking films that Americans can’t find anywhere else,” said Werbach. “Since it’s nearly impossible for thought-provoking
films to get backing from the major studios, Ironweed is cutting out the middleman and connecting audiences and filmmakers directly.”
Reflecting widespread enthusiasm for Ironweed’s mission, supporters include actor Robin Williams, MoveOn.org founder Joan Blades, and best-selling author and linguist George Lakoff (Don’t Think of an Elephant).
“Film is one of the most important aspects of American culture, defining our values, our narratives, and our issues, and telling truths via stories,” Lakoff recently said in an endorsement of Ironweed.
“There are superb progressive films being made, but rarely seen and even more rarely discussed widely. The progressive community needs its own film club to help make progressive films a critical part of American culture," said Lakoff.
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