As more and more news media have been absorbed by a handful of mega-corporations, independent documentary films have become an increasingly significant source of news and opinion. Michael Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 911, may have made the biggest recent splash, but filmmaker Robert Greenwald has been breaking news for 30 years, and now he’s breaking records. When Greenwald’s Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, was released on DVD by The Disinformation Company in July 2004, it immediately became the #1 selling DVD on Amazon.com. 100,000 DVDs were sold in less than three weeks after its release, beating out such major studio releases as the Star Wars Trilogy. Over 200,000 units, a large number for a documentary on DVD, have now been sold. Given his accomplishments, Greenwald is a particularly apt recipient of the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Upton Sinclair Award this year. The award will be presented on May 5 at the Foundation’s annual dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Liberty Hill is Santa Monica’s largest public foundation. According to a Foundation spokesperson, “Over the course of his 30-year career, Greenwald has consistently fought to put social justice subjects on the screen, and directed or produced some of the bravest TV and film production to come out of Hollywood.” Among his better-known films are Steal This Movie, about ‘60s activist Abbie Hoffman; The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth about Enron; Forgotten Prisoners, about human rights violations; and The Burning Bed, about domestic violence. Since 2000, Greenwald has produced a series of fast-off-the-press documentaries on live wire issues, including Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, which focuses on the voting irregularities in Florida; Uncovered: The Iraq War, Unconstitutional about the post-9-11 erosion of civil liberties; and Outfoxed. In addition to screening in conventional theaters and being released on DVDs, this new breed of documentary is now being shown regularly in coffee houses and churches by grassroots groups, as well as making news in the corporate media. It has been widely reported that ABC deleted all references to Fox News Channel in a recent episode of its series, “Boston Legal,” which featured clips from Outfoxed in a courtroom scene. But ABC refused to sell commercial airtime during the program to The Disinformation Company for an ad for Outfoxed. A book version of Outfoxed was released by The Disinformation Company on April 20. In it, journalist Alexandra Kitty continues the investigation of Fox News Channel, digging deeper into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. According to The Disinformation Company’s President Gary Baddeley, “Outfoxed” is proving to be more than just a successful documentary. It’s changing the media landscape by making it known very loudly and very clearly that Fox News Channel is anything but an objective source of news. We all owe Robert Greenwald and his partners on the film, MoveOn.org and Center for American Progress, a huge thank you.” Greenwald said, “I am astounded at having passed 200,000 in sales of the DVD and I want to express my appreciation and thanks to Bill O’Reilly and all the folks at Fox News who have attacked us and made this milestone possible.” Upton Sinclair was a Southern California writer whose novels, such as The Jungle, and magazine articles exposed injustices, venality and corruption in big business and . government. In the 1930s, he ran for governor, pledging to end poverty in California, and got 40 percent of the vote. At the dinner, the foundation will also honor philanthropist William J. Resnick, and the leaders of Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, Geri Silva and Gail Blackwell. Liberty Hill was established by film producer Sarah Pillsbury (How to Make An American Quilt, And the Band Played On, Eight Men Out, Desperately Seeking Susan). This year’s dinner co-chairs include J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath, Assemblymember Karen Bass, Mike Farrell and Shelly Fabares, Tom Hayden and Barbara Williams, Arianna Huffington, Rick Jacobs, Michele and Rob Reiner, Lisa Smithline, Margery Tabankin and Earl Katz. The Los Angeles Times has called Liberty Hill “the most effective organization of its type in the country.” Its motto is “Change, not charity.” The Hilton is located at 9876 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. A pre-dinner reception will be held at 6 p.m. Dinner begins at 7:30. Tickets are $500 and $300. Call Blue Room Events at (310) 491-1401 for more information and ticket sales, or log on to www.libertyhill.org/dinner
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