November 21, 2008

“Media Sanctuary has an activist vein”

Date published: 11/05/2006
Publication: Albany Times Union

TROY — A handful of people, from teenagers to those old enough to collect Social Security, listen attentively as Branda Miller shows how to edit a digital movie. Assembled in the basement of an old church, the students are not only interested in the process of making movies. They also want to use the skills. Each has a documentary project waiting in the wings.

Places like the Sanctuary for Independent Media wear their politics proudly, and many of the projects featured have a leftist slant and tap an activist vein.

“There is a growing awareness that whatever you are addressing, labor issues, civil rights, media has got to be your second issue,” said Miller, a founding member of the Sanctuary, as she showed off the downstairs gallery.

The Sanctuary has presented an array of events such as a documentary on Buddhist nun Robina Courtin, who stuck around afterward for a Q&A; University at Buffalo art professor Steve Kurtz, who was investigated on bioterrorism charges surrounding his Critical Art Ensemble, and Troy filmmaker Jim DeSeve, whoe “Tying the Knot” is about same-sex marriage.

Other recent events have featured Middle Eastern scholar and former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Mansour Farhoung and a performance of Afro-Cuban music by the Billy Bang Quartet.

The Sanctuary has a cafe and a library, largely stocked by volunteers and donations from places such as the Honest Weight Food Coop.

For Steve Pierce and Miller, opening the Sanctuary was aprogression from projects they have been involved in over the past decade, including the Hudson Mohawk Indy Media Center, which disseminates news and uses the sanctuary for much of its operation.

As the momentum grown, more and more people with an activist bent will see they can make a difference, says Jim Welch, whose company provides servers to businesses and organizations, including the Sanctuary. “If we don’t put in the efforts, we are sure not to get a result.”

— Danielle Furfaro

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