Speculations on Openings, Closings, and Thresholds in International Public Media
Friday, March 1, 2013
48 hours to go until our FLEFF Kick Off event, Upstate Filmmakers Showcase, on Sunday, March 3 at 4 pm..
Why do we need to sell out this screening?
Digital conversion is the biggest challenge facing the film industry since the coming of sound in 1927.
The digital conversion offers pristine images and perfect sound. Scratches, sound compression, ripped films, and torn sprocket holes disappear, spectres of legacy analog forms.
No more yelling “focus” from your seat. It will be perfect: a blissed out nirvana of image, sound, popcorn.
But behind all perfection lurks a nasty political economy that constitutes a David and Goliath story pitting the large and monied against the small and underresourced.
The large transnational media corporations and their ancillary boutique distributors have successfully pushed for DCP, the new format. The cost savings for distributors is enormous: a 35mm print of a feature can cost anywhere between $2,000-5,000 for one print, while a DCP-basically a movie on a hard drive the size of an evening bag- of the same film costs as little as $500.
The transnational media corporations stand to save over $1 billion a year through the conversion. And yes, that was NOT a typo. 1 billion a year.
But what represents an enormous, greedy cost savings for distributors--most of whom are corporations larger than most nation states-- translates into a huge expenditure for exhibitors, especially for smaller art cinemas without corporate backing.
80% of all theaters in the United States have converted to digital projection. Almost all of them are large chains like Cinemark and Regal, monsters in the entertainment industry food chains.
The remaining 20% are small art cinemas, local cinemas, museums, repertory venues, and specialty houses. They are community-based, often either locally owned, coops, or non-profit. They show films no transnational multiplex would touch, such as almost any film with subtitles from a country other than the US.
According to entertainment industry trade press sources, somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 cinemas will go dark by the end of this year. They will go out of business, leaving a larger chunk of the viewing landscape to large corporate multiplexes.
According to Scott Bliss, executive director of Cinemapolis, 35mm prints will be extinct as a first run exhibition medium by July 2013.
A digital projector costs between $65,000 to $80,000. Cinemapolis has five screens--in fact, it is one of the only multiplexes for art cinema in the United States. Two cinemas have at this writing been converted to digital. The theater needs to raise $350,000 for the conversion. They are about 2/3 of the way there,thanks to the generosity of contributions from the Ithaca community and its loyal movie-goers.
The Upstate Filmmakers Showcase will be held in Cinema 5, which has 185 seats. If we sell out, the digital conversion campaign receives in influx of $1,500--a significant contribution towards their goal.
All of the filmmakers, the curator, and the moderator are donating their time and films on Sunday to help the theater in this effort.
What can you do?
Spread the word to all of your friends, explain to them how serious and pressing this current situation is. Forward the link to this blog. Let them know their $8 is the best 8 bucks they ever spent. It's the cost of two lattes.
And this 8 bucks--less than a a month's subscription to Netflix-- makes a strong stand for cinema beyond action films, superstars, spectacles, CGI, special effects.
8 bucks says NO to going dark.
It's a stand for cinema across borders.
It’s a stand for cinema with subtitles, bringing us into other worlds.
It’s a stand for cinema with other people gathered together in a public place.
It’s a stand for cinema for the rest of us ,with the rest of us.
Will we see you on Sunday, March 3, at Cinemapolis, at 4? I hope so.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
The Favorite Film Challenge winners and honorable mentions wrote about features and shorts, commercial cinemas and international art films. All the winners were students enrolled in Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis at Ithaca College in Fall 2010.
They wrote passionately and eloquently about films from China, the US, Germany, Senegal, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. The time periods spanned from the 1920s to the present.
The grand prize winners and winners received complimentary passes to Ithaca’s local art cinema, Cinemapolis, and a copies of recent books written by Ithaca College cinema studies faculty Dr. Steve Tropiano and Dr. Patricia Zimmermann.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
James Earl, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’14, for Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China, 1995)
Ian Carsia, Cinema, Photography and Media Arrts, ’14, for Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger, United States, 1964)
Janet Early, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’14, for Singin in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, United States, 1952)
Neli Gacheva, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, Germany, 1920)
Rachel Lewis-Krisky, Documentary Studies and Production, ’14, for Black Girl (Ousmane Sembene, Senegal, 1966)
Samantha Towle, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’14, for Earth (Deepa Mehta, Canada/India, 1998)
Kevin Campbell, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’12, for Lemon (Hollis Framptom, United States, 1969)
Jon DeMaio, Philosophy, ’14, for Street of Crocodiles (Brother Quay, United Kingdom, 1987)
Lexus Lomison, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’14, for Earth (Deepa Mehta, Canada/India, 1998)
Aimee Rizzo , Culture and Communication, ’14, for Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin, Germany, 2009)
Shane Rubano, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, ’14 for Street of Crocodiles (Brother Quay, United Kingdom, 1987)
Emily Sussman, Writing, ’12, for Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, United States, 1943)
To our generous sponsors of the Favorite Film Challenge, Cinemapolis, Ithaca’s downtown art cinema on the Ithaca Commons and major partner of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, for the complimentary movie passes for our winners.
To Dr. Steve Tropiano of Ithaca College’s James B. Pendleton Center in Los Angeles for generously supplying copies his books as prizes.
And to Mickey Casad and Corinna Lee, part of the teaching team for Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis at Ithaca College, for serving as the jury for this contest.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
As the snow falls and film studies courses wrap up for the semester, it's time to uncork your passions and join the FAVORITE FILM CHALLENGE.
Pick your favorite film of Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis, if you are one of my students, or, your favorite Cinemapolis film of the fall, if you are not one of my students. Then, explain why it's your favorite film in a short, well-written paragraph. Post your challenge in the comments section of this blog.
By late next week (Friday December 17), we'll select a winner. The winners will receive some specially selected film books and some passes for free movies to Cinemapolis as prizes. The judges are Mickey Casad, Corinna Lee and me. DEADLINE: Thursday December 16 at MIDNIGHT.
Criteria: a solid, compelling, eye-opening, moving, and convincing argument for your film.
Join the FAVORITE FILM CHALLENGE. See you in the comments section on this blog!