Archive for March 31st, 2011

As I Lay Resting

March 31, 2011

What a day to get sick! In between naps as I lay suffering from god only knows what bug that has rendered my body achy and poured some fluids into my lungs, I received two notices from two ends of the film industry that make my illness pale in comparison to that of the celluloid image. A fellow film programmer forwarded me a press release issued by NATO, that would be the National Association of Theater Owners and not the folks currently conducting bombing raids over Libya, which was a sort of call to arms for theater owners and operators. Who was the fight against? Well the studios of course, who’ve decided to shorten the window of  release between theatrical and VOD, something that smaller theaters like ours succumbed to several years ago when many of the indie distributors often eliminated them completely.  The theater owners were of course no consulted about this, and it appears as thought perhaps all the majors made this decision as an industry wide mandate. 

If that weren’t enough cause for concern, my industry insider also included a quote from a speech delivered at something called CinemaCon, an excerpt of which I’m including here. 

John Fithian told exhibition at CinemaCon:
“For any exhibitor who can hear my voice who hasn’t begun your digital transition, I urge you to get moving.  The distribution and exhibition industries achieved history when
we agreed to technical standards and a virtual print fee model to enable this transition. But the VPFs won’t last forever.  Domestically, you must be installed by the end of 2012 if you want to qualify.  Equally significantly, based on our assessment of the roll-out schedule and our conversations with our distribution partners, I believe that film prints could be unavailable as early as the end of 2013.  Simply put, if you don’t make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business.”

Whoa… film prints unavailable as of 2013?! A few studio repertory divisions are already making it very difficult to secure prints for retrospectives. But when your multiplex goes all digital that suggests a seismic shift in the way films are exhibited FOREVER.  

And that my friends is just item number one. 

Item two comes from the caretakers of some of experimental cinema’s (you read correctly) finest treasures; Canyon Cinema. It was the kind of plea that we received back in February of 2009 from the Filmmakers Coop, who were threatened with eviction. Canyon labeled their plea an “Important Message To The Film Community” and starting with the the sentence, “This is a very serious letter.” And it is very serious. Canyon is going through some difficult financial times, and are considering some drastic measures. Their appeal while not exclusively financial, is also for creative solutions, of which they offer a few possibilities. 

In the opening paragraph they suggest part of this trouble comes from the fact that universities are purchasing dvds instead of renting prints for classroom use, which of course they acknowledge is due to changes in budgets and equipment. Our own Search and Rescue program was born out of this quagmire a few years back. 

My illness seems to have coincided so perfectly with that of the moving image. What a day!


We’re selling booze!

March 31, 2011

And here’s the press release to prove it:

Northwest Film Forum Announces Beer & Wine Sales

The Seattle nonprofit cinema has been approved for a liquor license and plans to begin selling beer and wine during evening movie screenings and events beginning Friday, April 22.

Seattle, WA — Northwest Film Forum will soon be selling beer and wine! The Capitol Hill film arts center recently received a Nonprofit Arts & Entertainment liquor license and intends to sell alcoholic beverages every evening during box office hours beginning April 22, 2011. The cinema will continue to be open to filmgoers of all ages.

Says Executive Director Lyall Bush, “Acquiring a liquor license will make the Film Forum that much more a forum, a place where people can gather, linger and talk. We encourage people to come early or stay after a movie, meet up with friends and discuss what they’ve just seen.”

Adds House Manger Ilana Holmes, “We’ve always served beer and wine for special events with event-specific banquet permits. The liquor license helps us make every night special.”

The Film Forum plans to offer a house red and white wine, with a higher-end selection of red, and three choices of beer. Says Holmes, “As much as possible we will focus on Washington and Oregon breweries and wineries. Once we get settled we plan to change the menu quarterly and make connections with what’s playing in the cinemas.”

Over time, the organization will make adjustments in their lobby to better accommodate patrons who choose to arrive early for a drink. A plan for bench seating and cafe tables is in the works, among other updates.

Film Forum programs will continue to be open to all ages, with the exception of some special events. Details about what kinds of drinks are permitted in the cinemas are still being worked out before the first day of alcohol service.

The first night of alcohol sales will coincide with the opening night of Bummer Summer, with filmmaker Zach Weintraub in attendance. Bummer Summer was the jury prizewinner of last year’s Local Sightings Film Festival.