In Features, Issues


by Scott Macaulay

Microcinema DVD releases Synesthetics and Icarus of Pittsburgh.

Explaining his company’s just-announced foray into DVD distribution, Microcinema co-founder and creative director Joel S. Bachar comments, “Anyone can call themselves a DVD distributor. But we have nine years of experience curating, distributing and exhibiting short films around the world. So we’re not just waking up one day and deciding to start a DIY label. Distributing short films is tough, but we believe strongly in getting these titles out there.”

To accomplish that, Bachar and his business partner, Patrick Kwiatkowski, have created the Blackchair label, a specialty DVD distributor that will present both Microcinema-produced disks as well as titles acquired from allied microlabels. The latter include filmmaker Craig Baldwin’s Other Cinema Digital label, which has just released Baldwin’s own Spectres of the Spectrum, and Matt McCormick’s Portland, Ore.–based Peripheral Produce label, which has released works by art star Miranda July.

Also on Blackchair will be discs dubbed “The Blackchair Sessions” that will, Bachar says, “highlight the authors. They’re in the spirit of the [BBC music series] ‘Peel Sessions.’ We take an artist who has a body of work, let him or her create the menus and the packaging, and release the work in a limited edition.” First up is Cleveland experimental videomaker Kasumi with a nine-film compilation entitled Synesthetics.

Finally, the label will come out with several compilations culled from Microcinema’s “Independent Exposure” series. “We’re excited about putting [a DVD] together for kids,” says Bachar of the planned first release. “We’ve never seen a short-film compilation that’s independent and avant-garde but aimed at children.”

The Blackchair films will initially be available only through the Microcinema Web site ( and at Microcinema events. Soon, though, they will also be distributed through independent book and video retailers and then, hopefully, the chains. “We’ll be finding that balance between ‘inexpensive’ and ‘effective,’ ” Bachar laughs. “We’re going to avoid spending big money on ads in magazines, but we’ll be doing a lot of grass-roots [marketing]. Over the years we’ve collected a lot of names. Will we be in Wal-Mart or Costco? Probably not. But we hope to get to the larger DVD distributors so we can get into the Borders and Virgin megastores. And to do that, you can’t just have one title — they need to see you have more.”

Go back to the main article: Trembling Before Video


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