In the spirit of our upcoming Spring issue’s Activism in Film theme, this week’s crowdfunder pick is the socially-conscious Beware of Images, a feature-length, fully animated documentary that warns audiences to digest media with caution.

While public education strives to develop English language literacy among its students, serious attention to media literacy is neglected in most school curriculae. Having a strong foundation to properly criticize and interpret information presented in the media is an increasingly relevant, necessary skill. The feature documentary Beware of Images aims to lay this foundation for viewers, who can expect to learn “about the history, technology, regulation and social effects of media.”

The visionary behind the scenes, Mexico City-born artist Sergio Toporek, is a man whose resume qualifies him as more than qualified to execute this project. Toporek has studied graphic design at his native Universidad Iberoamericana, photography at Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, direction at the New York Film Academy, and visual arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Since 1993 he has designed more than 80 album covers, working with Latin celebrities like Luis Miguel, Maná, Paulina Rubio, and Café Tacuba. Although Toporek has taught media literacy workshops, this film will educate more people at an exponential rate.

Shark are not Predators

So why is media literacy so pressing to Toporek? After working in advertising in Vancouver, he realized that he was only perpetuating the livelihood of industries and corporations that only perpetuated consumerism, environmental pollution, corporate corruption, income inequality, female objectification, and military spending. In his Kickstarter campaign page, Toporek complains that, “advertising [promotes] an endless cycle of desire, consumption, obsolescence, and dissatisfaction.” The most powerful organizations influencing the world right now—“religious institutions, governments and corporations”—are the ones who understand how powerful visual representation in the media is in manipulating the views of the masses, “and have exploited it to advance their interests.” Thus, “education is the only way we will be able to shift the present power balance, from corporate interests towards the public good.”

So far Toporek has done an excellent job proving his legitimacy and skill in spearheading this cause. Beware of Image’s Kickstarter campaign site provides everything you need to know about the cause, along with movie stills, visual references used in the film, narrative excerpts in audio formats, and a campaign video that gives a concise, satisfying taste of the film’s purpose and spirit. Beyond the film, the cause has already been growing as a larger project, concerned with extending the education and participation of the masses beyond the film’s runtime. The Beware of Images Facebook page boasts more than 250,000 active participants, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that the campaign is closely approaching its fundraising goal. But its civic-minded, education-based cause is something that can always benefit from an increase in budget.


Campaigners: Sergio Toporek

Target Amount: $38,000

Amount Currently Raised: $33,383

Campaign Closing Date: May 1, 2014

Funding Goes Toward: Distribution to community centers, theaters, schools; completing animation; better music and sound design; ultimately, everyone’s education.

Donor Reward Highlights:

+$25 CAD (about $23 USD): Donors will receive “A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the film when it is completed,” a digital goody-bag, updates, and special thanks. Considering the inexpensiveness of the donation, those on a budget, but who are truly dedicated to supporting the cause, can possess a copy of their own to distribute and educate on their own accord.

Sergio Toporek Picture

+$85 CAD (about $77 USD): Donors will receive “A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the film when it is completed,” one of the cleverly designed special edition T-shirts, a digital goody-bag, updates, and a feature under the special thanks section of the film under the credits.

+$500 CAD (about $456 USD): Donors can “SPONSOR a Beware of Images Media Literacy Workshop for AN UNDERFUNDED PUBLIC SCHOOL,” and will be specifically acknowledged during the workshop. An email providing digital documentation of the workshop donors personally sponsored will be sent by director Sergio Toporek. In addition to educating the future citizens of the world, donors will receive the same rewards from the $25 package listed above. MM

Visit the Beware of Images Kickstarter campaign page here.

To subscribe to MovieMaker Magazine, click here.