Now that we can move beyond the shallow, desparate spectacle of the Academy Awards, I want to direct your attention on the eve of the #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS Day of Action this Friday to a new initiative called Cinemas in Solidarity, a grassroots movement of independent movie theaters standing in solidarity with OWS and against the corporate multiplexing of America.
According to a statement on its blog, Cinemas In Solidarity joins with OWS "in proposing a new, different, and better world.... In our mass-mediated world – where studios make endless sequels to sell tickets, where films treat audiences like consumers rather than thinkers, where news stations flood screens with spin, and where technology drives the act of viewing to become more individuated and less public – we work to create alternatives."
Conceived by Becca Prahl, an employee of Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY, the movement got its very own Cinemas in Solidarity trailer, which now plays in between previews at a handful of art-houses: the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, ME, the Upstate and Tinker Street in Rhinebeck and Woodstock, NY; the Little Art in Yellow Springs, OH; the Palm in San Luis Obispo, CA and the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale, NY.
Shadow Distribution head Ken Eisen, who also runs the Railroad Square Cinema, voluneteered to make 35mm prints of the trailer at Alpha-Cine in Seattle, and says more prints could be struck if other theaters are interested.
As has been reported extensively in recent weeks, it's a dire moment for the future of art-house theaters, as prohibitively expensive digiital projection systems threaten to close them down. It's one of the reasons I conceived #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS, just as much, if not more, to support independent exhibitors as to boycott Hollywood product.
As the Cinemas in Solidarity statement declares: "Today, when digital movies are available at the click of a button and Indy cinemas are fighting to get people in their seats, the future of arthouse exhibition doesn't always look bright. But as we continue to work with community groups, filmmakers, teachers, and activists, and as we play our films week after week to a core of returning film buffs, we know we're doing something important for the people we reach. We know we have to keep our doors open."
For more, join Cinemas in Solidarity Facebook page.
And here's that CIS trailer, created by Jessica Shoudy, who works at Maine-based Shadow Distribution, and Jak Peters, who works at the state's indie arthouse Railroad Square Cinema: