By Caryn James | James on Screens January 17, 2012 at 11:30PM
UPDATE: In a great, forward-looking match, Tribeca Film has just acquired Side By Side, and plans a summer release.
A film about the changing technology of movies – film, digital, 3D – may sound like a snooze, but I promise you that the trailer for Side By Side, a new documentary produced by on-camera interviewer Keanu Reeves, is lively and enticing even for non-techies like me. (So that's what Reeves has been doing with some of that Matrix money.)
As you can see from the trailer, he has gotten the very best directors and cinematographers to talk, and has drawn them out in a way that makes the doc seem full of personalities, not abstractions or science.
He asks David Lynch, “Are you done with film?” and Lynch drawls, “Don’t hold me to it, Keanu, but I probably am.”
The always blunt James Cameron says, “You can’t shoot 3D on film, so film has been dead in my heart for ten years,” and is followed immediately in the trailer by The Dark Knight’s great cinematographer Wally Pfister, who says, “I hate 3D. I put on those 3D glasses, I get sick to my stomach. The whole 3D phenomenon, it’s a marketing scheme, isn’t it?”
And along with remarks from George Lucas, Christopher Nolan and Steven Soderbergh, there’s Lena Dunham, who adds a generational difference: “Without digital video culture I don’t think I would ever have been making movies because . . . basically in my head I was, like, ‘You’ve got to be a dude who knows how to operate machines to do this job.’”
I might not have found this so intriguing if Martin Scorsese’s Hugo hadn’t shown what a true artist can do with 3D, so it makes sense that he puts it in perspective here. He’s astute and commonsensical as he says of the changing technology: “The issue is – it’s different. How is it different, and how do you use it to tell a story? It’s up to the filmmaker.”
The film, also produced by Justin Szlasa and directed by Christopher Kenneally, will have its world premiere in the Special Section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Here's the all-star trailer. (You can go to the Side By Side website for updates about the film’s post-Berlin life.)