Philly ZineFest Documentary 2004

Philly ZineFest Documentary 2004 / 2005 Outhouse publishing / /

This is really a documentary, replete with interviews with a number of the attendants at the title event (The 2004 edition of the Philly ZineFest. However, some of the pieces are definitely weaker than the others. Starting off with BenT (Unshaven Chi), one really might wonder why such a stilted and silence-filled interview was allowed to have the opening spot. I guess, considering the next two interviews (Sid Karp (Holocaust Awareness Quarterly), Sheena Allen (Mr. Fujiyama…)) are much more interesting and come from two distinctly different foci. The mixture of new and old does provide an interesting tension in the film’s dialogue where individuals like Sid and Jim Testa have been around for thirty years and others have just recently came into the scene. In fact, the presence of this tension really breaks down the sometimes-monolithic feeling zine culture and really makes it feel that anyone who is motivated to get together a zine can just go out to Philly (or by extension, any of the other zine festivals) and have a voice equal to anyone else.

Smartly enough, the presence of Reb (in interview form) during this film really is a great, deserved “fuck you” to all of the prisonerphobic zinesters that won’t cough up the .60 to send a copy out to someone who may be cooped up for decades just for having a bag of pot or for breaking into an empty building. Other zines who have editors that are interviewed during this film include The Hungover Gourmet (which really made me feel as I have not done anything with my 6 years in the field – the editor has created over sixty issues of different zines).The only thing that really can be construed as a weakness during this issue that there are not really those individuals who are in the middle between the newer people (Sheena) and the old stalwarts of the scene (Jim, Reb); it might be interesting to have individuals who have been around for a few years and could provide a bridge between the newbies and the old guard. Also, if there could be interviews with individuals who do not publish zines – to get into the mindset of someone who could be at least nominally called an outsider – I feel as if this already-taut documentary would be bow-string tight.

The footage is strong and well-recorded (there are some minor issues with the lighting on the sun-soaked Jim Testa interview, but by and large everything else looks great), and individuals are clear and enunciate all their points in a usually-forward way. The Philly ZineFest Documentary, while not having an overall plot (most documentaries still have some vestiges of a narrative to tie things together) beyond the same questions posed to each zinester, still will kindle the fire in everyone stomach enough to make them slap some pictures and text on paper and call it a zine. Here’s to hoping that this becomes something yearly, as to see the evolution of some of these newer zinesters and of the conference itself would be inspirational, to say the least.

Rating: 7.4/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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