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Monday, August 8, 2022

Photographs taken during an evolutionary event.

A new season of movies has begun in cinemas throughout the country. while, the film industry is abuzz with new release dates, in-person festivals, a quickening Oscar race, a variety of Covid-19 procedures, and apprehensive predictions for the near future. Has cinema died (again) or has it had a beautiful rebirth? Have its genetics changed into something entirely else, such as a two-headed Disney-Netflix monster with art embedded somewhere in its DNA? Both Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, two of our most prominent cinema reviewers, have expressed their opinions on these issues.

As well, and not for the first time, it is generally believed to be in imminent danger of being destroyed. There is some of this anxiousness that is unique to Covid. None of us knows what will happen next, when it will happen, or if audiences will return to the theatres in large enough numbers to allow the old economic models to be revived. In addition to the pandemic, corporate strategy may play a role in determining the future of movies and moviegoing, rather than viral mutations or customer preferences.

Accordingly, what you and I, as well as other members of our increasingly older population, considered to be “going to the movies” may now be supplanted by a new menu of options and behaviours. In other words, I’m talking about the notion of going to the movies as a destination rather than just seeing a specific film. You would often simply go about and take in whatever was on display, and there would always be something — be it art, garbage, or anything in between — that was worth the little price of admission, which wasn’t much. It was very simple to develop a movie habit, which a large number of us managed to do.

Today’s children haven’t developed it in the same manner that they did in previous generations. They have more displays, more choices, and a greater variety of reasons to purchase a ticket than ever before. Just to be clear, I’m not bemoaning anything. It’s the impact of these shifts on the art form that we’re still referring to with archaic terms like cinema and film that I’m most concerned about right now.

In spite of this, excellent and bizarre films were being produced at the time, just as they are now. My concern is that many of them will be lost in the streaming algorithms or on the fringes of micro-distribution, out of reach of even the tiniest audiences who could have found them in the first place. One source of concern — which has nothing to do with streaming per se — is the widespread demise of the local newspapers and alternative weekly publications that provided a vital source of information to local cinema scenes across the nation. Journalism and the prosperity of the film industry are intertwined.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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