Features & Columns

Fourth Annual CreaTiVe Awards

CreaTiVe Awards honor local videomakers and hail a free-speech legend
CreaTiVe Awards BUT, MR. GRANT: Actor Ed Asner will receive the Leigh Weimers Community Media Champion Award at the CreaTiVe Awards.

For the fourth annual CreaTiVe Awards gala hoedown spectacular, exploding at the California Theater on Jan. 18, television legend Ed Asner will descend upon San Jose once again to receive accolades. Asner, now 84, will receive the Leigh Weimers Community Media Champion Award.

Named after the San Jose Mercury News columnist and community legend, Leigh Weimers, the Weimers award recognizes individuals who fight for the local voice, champions who, through public policy work or passionate support of independent media, help to ensure that community voices are represented in the mass-homogenization inflicted by the mainstream channels. Asner is a model choice, being a longtime freedom fighter for public access television. He realizes that freedom of the press is of the utmost importance, perhaps the most important right these days, because if that goes away, then most other freedoms might soon follow. Especially now that the NSA is spying on us, and the reporters who point out the problem are then accused of being the source of the problem.

The CreaTiVe Awards, held by community media center CreaTV, honor local videomakers and are always a treat, with several Bay Area media institutions, as well as elementary and junior high school-aged kids, receiving awards for their productions and efforts. You can mingle with future documentarians primed to take over the world and expose power to truth. You can meet citizen journalists, avant-garde educators, local TV personalities, community activists, non-profiteering heroes and a veritable cosmic stew of altruistic individuals, all with rocking stories to tell. To me, that's a hell of a lot better than schmoozing with plastic surgery models in the commercial world.

And speaking of rocking stories, the documentary that Cinequest thought would never, ever, ever finally go away, Rock the Block: The Story of the Cactus Club is nominated in not one, but two categories, proving that the story itself will indeed never go away. Director Lon Lopez is one of five in the running for the "CreaTiVe Excellence Awards—Director," and one of four in the running for "Filmmaker more than 30 minutes—Feature." If you want to learn more about the legendary rock & roll club that put San Jose on the map all across the United States from 1989-2002, the entire 50-minute film is on YouTube.

In any event, as in previous CreaTiVe Awards, the whole ceremony proves just how much media creativity unfolds here in San Jose, when the city can be a place difficult for even the natives to follow. In other words, even many of those who live here are unaware of just how much is actually going on and often seem surprised when they miss out on something. If you feel like you're one of those types, the CreaTiVe Awards is a slick opportunity to at least see what various media institutions are up to these days. And it's all about community access to materials.

It doesn't stop there. CreaTV recently unleashed two particular programs, which more than exemplify Asner's die-hard attitude toward the importance of public access television. "Make the Call, San Jose!" deals with unsolved homicides and families dealing with the painful aftermath of these crimes. An on-air collaboration between SJPD, the Independent Police Auditor and CreaTV San Jose highlights the unsolved crimes and encourages those with information to call the Police Department's tipline. The first episode aired on CreaTV San Jose's Channel 30, Nov. 29, 2013, at 7pm, and airs on that channel every Friday as well as via live stream on CreaTV's website.

Another program, an episodic magazine-style showcase produced in partnership with The Health Trust, focuses on what and how Silicon Valley eats, with a focus on access to healthy and organic choices for all, in order to fight obesity. Since obesity is often a direct result of life in suburbia, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Finally CreaTV also recently announced a project in collaboration with Norman Kline Productions and History San Jose. Together, they will produce a major documentary on the history of this entire city. It's more than overdue. Past, present and future are merging yet again.