david garcia on Tue, 29 Nov 2005 22:58:18 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Yes Men Meet the BBC in Amsterdam

Yes Men and the BBC
Collide in Amsterdam

Yesterday (28th of November) arch political pranksters The Yes Men  
were 'pitching' for support for a new movie to a powerful panel of  
commissioning editors at Amsterdam's important Documentary Film  
Festival. The Amsterdam Festival pitching sessions are very  
'upscale'. They are closed to the public, in fact access of any kind  
is not easy and very few film makers are considered important enough  
to pitch. Of course the world wide success of the Yes Men's previous  
feature length movie meant that they were granted a slot.
The Yes Men were pitching to raise the wad of cash necessary for a  
feature length documentary which would follow up and on their triumph  
of hoaxing the BBC World News, the now legendary stunt in which one  
of the Yes Men appeared as a representative of Dow Chemicals  
declaring that they were making a generous settlement to the victims  
of the Bhopal chemical disaster. And as a consequence sending Dow  
stocks into a temporary tail-spin.  The movie they are pitching for  
would enable Yes Men to use all the opportunities and budget of a  
feature length to go into corporate culpability for the Bhopal  
disaster in far greater depth.

As one might imagine Yes Men made a succinct and persuasive pitch to  
the panel. The format of the event was a little reminiscent of the  
BBC's reality TV business program 'Dragon's Den' in which hopefuls  
pitch their business ideas to a panel of stern venture capitalists.

Then the fun began as the moderator, (the zany and engaging Jess  
Search, founder of Shooting People and formally of Channel 4)  
provocatively kicked the ball to Nick Fraser the powerful BBC  
commissioning editor (series editor of Storyville). Fraser promptly  
threw what could only be described as a mini-tantrum, fulminating  
that as the organisation he represented had been hoaxed by the Yes  
Men, backing this outfit would of course be highly problematic. He  
also declared (as though it was for all the world quite separate from  
the BBC's position as hoax victim) that he found the work of Yes Men  
totally uninteresting. He then tossed the ball back to the moderator  
'if your so interested why don't Channel 4 take it up?. Search  
responded that she was no longer with Channel 4 but declared that 'if  
I was I would without hesitation'.

The rest of the session was full of banter in which great pleasure  
was clearly taken in the BBC editor's discomfort, he was made to  
wriggle as various commissioning editors proceeded to suggest that  
this could perhaps be a test of the BBC's much vaunted 'objectivity';  
after all declared Pierre Merle of ARTE France, 'although you were  
hoax victims there is no reason for you to take it personally'.

David Garcia: Amsterdam

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