FOCUSING ON THE DEMAND FOR ARTHOUSE CINEMA
Related to the post below, Mike Ryan posts over at Truly Free Film that instead of spending so much time thinking about the future of movies on handheld devices we should be more concerned about making sure that the values of classic arthouse cinema are not allowed to wither and die.
For me one of the scariest aspects about the future state of indie film is not the problems connected to distribution (though they are formidable and problematic for other reasons) but instead I am most worried about the future DEMAND for the auteur driven films that I love. I am not into film because I like to sit and watch moving photographs of talking heads, I like cinema that gives me drama in a form that is unique, specific and distinct from any other medium. Most movies really are just filmed radio shows, driven by talk, and that’s not why I am into the film medium. The problem is not just getting true auteur driven cinema made but the problem is about maintaining the demand for that kind of cinema. Unfortunately the types of ‘solutions’ you are proposing do not address that aspect of the problem. In fact ,watching ‘films’ on computers or, god forbid, hand devices, will only further reduce film literacy and increase demand for these types of ‘filmed radio shows’ that play best on tiny screens. For me ‘indie film’ is not a business model that worked for twenty years because films were made for cheap and sold high. For me indie cinema is about artists expressing themselves in a way that was NOT overtly commercial. The ‘decline’ did not just start last year, in my opinion it started with SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE, a generic filmed soap opera that was made cheap sold high and shifted the ‘success’ criteria from individuality and formal innovation to box office numbers.
So my ‘solution’ would be more connected to maintaining/creating an appreciation for the true cinema experience. I would like to see that arts funding (Redford mentioned that he hopes that Obama may be arts friendly) be earmarked for cinema programs in local museums/libraries. This means projecting actual film prints of both classic art house films and contemporary work by true cinema auteurs, in the style of the rep theaters of old.