Dee Dee Halleck was born Dee Dee Drosten in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 5, 1940. After graduating from high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1959 she wed Mahlon Halleck, with whom she went on to have three children during a marriage that ended in divorce 12 years later. While raising her family, Halleck also launched a career as a media activist, film producer, and college professor. In 1961 she produced her first film, Children Make Movies, about a film-making project at the Lillian Wald Settlement in Lower Manhattan. In 1965, her documentary Mural on Our Street – which chronicles the creation and installation of a ceramic mural in New York City – was nominated for an Academy Award.
From 1965-72, Halleck was affiliated with a media literacy/film-making program at the Henry Street Settlement Film Club in New York. From 1968-72, she was also associated with Live Arts, a multi-arts (painting, film, video, and theater) community organization based in Middletown, New York that worked with housing-project tenants, migrant workers, and parolees.
From 1970-1985, Halleck was an adjunct professor of cinema at several schools including New York University, C.W. Post (Long Island University), the Manhattan-based School of Visual Arts, and Hunter College.
In 1976 Halleck co-coordinated the Minnewaska Conference on Child-Made Films, “a fifteen-year assessment of media by youth throughout the world.”
In the 1970s as well, Halleck served as president of the Association of Independent Video and Film Makers. While holding that position, she led a media-reform campaign in Washington, DC, testifying twice before the House Sub-Committee on Telecommunication. These efforts helped lead to the eventual creation of the Independent Television Service in 1988.
In 1981 Halleck co-founded the Paper Tiger TV Collective in New York City, as a way to encourage left-wing alternatives to America’s capitalist media. In 1986, Halleck and others who were involved with Paper Tiger created Deep Dish TV, a collective of left-wing activists and videographers who aimed to use satellite technology, which was becoming increasingly popular, as a radicalizing, organizing, and mobilizing tool.
Also in 1986, Halleck was hired as a professor in UC San Diego’s Department of Communication. She held that post until she retired in 2001, at which time she was given Professor Emerita status. During her tenure at UC San Diego, Halleck founded a branch of the Independent Media Center (IMC) movement, in which she was a seminal influence. She was also instrumental in developing the first IMC in Seattle, which covered the anti-globalization protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999.
In 1990-91, Halleck was the co-coordinator of the Gulf Crisis TV Project, a 10-part television series where a group of producers from Deep Dish TV and Paper Tiger TV sought to expose and “fight the rampant [American] militarism that seemed to be leading to war” in Iraq.
Halleck received two Rockefeller Media Fellowships for The Gringo in Mañanaland, a 1995 feature film about how American “cultural imperialism” was connected to negative stereotypes of Latin Americans in U.S. movies.
In 1997 Halleck co-coordinated a 12-part television series titled Bars and Stripes, which depicted America’s “prison industrial complex” as an institution replete with racism and injustice. One episode, titled “Prisoners of War: Political Prisoners in the US,” featured stories about the convicted murderers and leftist icons Leonard Peltier, Geronimo Pratt, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
That same year, Halleck published Hand Held Visions: the Impossible Possibilities of Community Media, a book that offered “a historical first-person perspective” on the rise of “the community-based media movement” in “a climate dominated by global media corporations that are in direct opposition to their work.”
In 2004-05, Halleck produced Shocking and Awful, a 12-part Deep Dish TV series condemning the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In June 2005, Halleck compiled some four hours of speeches and interviews from the World Tribunal on Iraq, an Istanbul event that was filmed by Deep Dish TV. Specifically, the Tribunal charged that America’s military incursion into Iraq constituted “one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history”; that the U.S. was guilty of enormous war crimes which the major media had purposely whitewashed; and that the war had not only killed countless thousands of innocent people, but also had destroyed important cultural sites and caused grave harm to the environment.
Over the years, Halleck’s left-wing media activities have been supported by numerous grants from such sources as the New York State Council on the Arts (1972, 1973, 1976, 1978-89, and 1999); the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1989); the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1982); the New York Council on the Humanities (1984, 1986); the Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship (1987, 1990); the Guggenheim Fellowship (1989); and the Soros Documentary Fund (1996), funded by international financier George Soros.
In addition to her film-making and instructional activities, Halleck has served as a trustee of such entities as the American Film Institute, Women Make Movies, and the Instructional Telecommunications Foundation.
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