The celluloid weapon: still loaded

Much of the programming at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was devoted to productions concerned with the ills of society. It reminded me of the title of a book by David Manning White and Richard Averson: The Celluloid Weapon. published in 1972. The authors dealt with social comment in the American film, surprisingly high in retrospect.

With the many technical advantages in cinema, “celluloid” is today a mere metaphor for film, but to me it still has the right ring. And in these times with so many ideologies threatening our freedoms it’s good to find that the weaponry of polemic still thrives in the medium.

Consider this: horror films with environmental or ethical subject matter; films about the consequences of violence against politicians; documentaries on social ills and how to change them, features concerned with complex human relations, satires with living persons as targets.

I saw a total of 26 films, most of which demonstrated a validity for their having been produced, I’m pleased to say, and saw only one that deserved the label “turkey.”

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