Apr 29, 2014
Posted by Roger Mancusi at 4:36 PM
Apr 25, 2014
Comment on Richard Brody's article
by Pamela Vizner
After reading Richard Brody's article "Don't Worry About the End of Film" I couldn't help noticing the distinction he makes between "film" and "video". I have to admit I was a bit confused about it. Correct me if I´m wrong, but it seems that his idea of video is what we normally call digital film. To be completely accurate, that's what digital film is: a digital video. However, I believe that in people´s mind the word video triggers some undesirable ideas of low image quality and amateur recording. I can't imagine a movie trailer saying "new Universal video production coming soon". But at the same time we shouldn't call it film, because it isn't. But what do we call it then? Which leads me to the following and persistent question: what is film?
At this turning point of shift from analog to digital, I believe that last question is more important than ever and specially when talking about preservation. What is it that we are preserving? Is film ultimately the cinematic experience? According to Brody there's more to it than that because "it certainly is a good idea for movie lovers in the age of digital projection to know what film projection looks like" with its flaws and imperfections. However, I can't help but wonder how many people really notice the difference of a film projection versus a digital projection and how much of that awareness is our responsibility as preservationists in educating people, especially when participating in restoration projects. I agree with Brody when he says "restorations of classic films, while offering the pleasure of visual clarity, often feel denatured". How will we preserve film and the film experience if we don't keep the material's inherent imperfections? I believe that film and its looks can be preserved even when shown as a digital file by undertaking restoration projects that are respectful of both the content and the media.
Finally I think that when Brody says "ultimately, what matters is not film or video but the idea", I think that a distinction must be made. This statement is valid for new productions; film is not better than video if it helps you achieve your aesthetic goals and a convincing narrative. But careful when saying that in a preservation environment; still video is not better than film, but it's certainly different in terms of preservation source and/or target medium.
Posted by Dan Streible at 7:05 PM
Apr 19, 2014
When we discussed in class whether the term “cinephile” was really accurate, or even useful anymore, it got me to thinking: am I a cinephile? To us, the word seems to be attached to a lot of historical context and it isn’t somebody who just watches movies a lot, but someone who insists on seeing them in specific settings and formats.
Posted by A Morton at 6:57 PM
The End of IMAX 70mm
by Benjamin Peeples
Posted by Benjamin at 3:48 PM
Apr 9, 2014
Posted by Pame at 10:18 AM
Writing in the New York Times in 1996, Susan Sontag couldn't help but notice the shift in filmmaking, and film watching, tendencies that came along with 1990's American cultural shifts. Looking at the film industry, she penned "The Decay of Cinema," underlining the increasing influence of capitalism, a "ubiquity of screens" in popular society, and the power of the industry's dollar conscious executives that, she believed, was leading to the death of cinephilia in American culture. If she could see the ubiquity of iPhone movie watching on the subways nowadays, her head might explode.
Speaking then, in 2013, Steven Soderbergh weighed in on this topic when delivering his speech "The State of Cinema" at the San Francisco Film Festival. The filmmaker, known for films of various sizes and scopes, used the podium to go beyond simply preaching about the days of yore when filmmaking was Filmmaking, and the dichotomy he makes between "cinema" (which is a process) and "movies" (which is "something you see") becomes more substantiated when he delivers the financial numbers to back up his theoretical claims.
To Soderbergh, the expanding economic expectations Sontag harped upon in '96 are now the dominating approach major film executives take to greenlighting projects. Soderbergh even boils it down to an algorithm, which he refers to as "running the numbers." Essentially, the point of entry for film distribution, he believes, is $30M. Therefore, film executives project production costs and add $30M to see what the starting price is domestically. Overseas distribution is another $30M, and with exhibitors taking 50% of box offices, studio executives are now looking at a $120M total box office just to make their money back on distribution. This number is staggering, and it keeps a lot of good films from ever leaving the starting gate.
Now, with unpredictable tracking technologies, under-educated executives, and an audience willing to attend films of lower artistic, but higher production, quality, this algorithm leans towards high budget, high octane, mass-marketed action, sci-fi, or travel films. Not the ambiguous, thematically exploratory films Soderbergh or Sontag had in mind when describing cinema or cinephilia.
Finally, Soderbergh outlines the market share that is making it increasingly difficult for independent films to recoup their costs at the box office. According to Soderbergh's math, in 2003 there were 455 films released: 275 independent and 180 studio releases. In 2013: 677 films were released: 549 indie and 128 studio. However, even though there was a 28% decrease in studio films, they took home 76% of the box office revenues in 2013, compared to 69% in 2003. Clearly it is not only more difficult for independent filmmakers to finance the films they want to make, but audiences are less supportive of these efforts on top of that.
So as Susan Sontag noticed that cinephilia was dead, or dying, in 1996, Steven Soderbergh similarly realized that the trend in filmmaking and film watching is towards blockbusters and away from films that might confuse or upset viewers. Studio executives are wary, unimaginitve, and all too conscious of the bottom line for a wholly creative film medium to exist. To quote Sontag's closing lines: "If cinephilia is dead, then movies are dead too.. no matter how many movies, even very good ones, go on being made. If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love." She seems to be right, but Soderbergh, and the American pop-culture machine, is having a hard time deciding in which direction that cine-love will take us.
Watch Soderbergh's full speech here: http://vimeo.com/65060864
Susan Sontag's "The Decay of Cinema" here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/03/12/specials/sontag-cinema.html
Posted by Roger Mancusi at 10:02 AM
|from Blacks in Experimental Film (Part 2)|
Maysles Documentary Center
Posted by Curtis Caesar John at 5:26 AM
Apr 7, 2014
From: Ron Sadoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 1:45 PM
Subject: Invitation to NYU Symphony Concert: FRIDAY
To: John Canemaker <email@example.com>, Joe Pichirallo <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mary Schmidt Campbell <email@example.com>, Dan Streible <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Sheril Antonio <email@example.com>, John Tintori <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted by Dan Streible at 1:54 PM
- Handling Controversial Material: BRICK MANSIONS an...
- Comment on Richard Brody’s article by Pamela Vizne...
- Do I have Cinephilia? A rant by Ashley Morton
- The End of IMAX 70mm
- The Enclave by Richard MosseExhibited at FOAM(Foto...
- Placing a Number on the Contemporary "Decay of Cin...
- May(sles) is not...whatever, you want it to be(?)
- Microcinemas Up-Close: SPECTACLE
- Fwd: Invitation to NYU Symphony Concert: FRIDAY
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