Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cineaste Roundtable on Repertory Film

A recent issue of Cineaste (35, no.2) has a roundtable symposium on the state of repertory cinema today. For those without a copy, there are web-only outtakes available online, including a response from the International House program curator, Robert Cargni-Mitchell. The participants were asked to answer the following questions:
1) Is there a future to repertory programming, given the momentous changes over the last decade in technology and viewing habits? How would you characterize the impact on theatrical exhibition of home video, Internet streaming, downloading, etc.? Are the consequences entirely negative, or are there collateral benefits (i.e., new prints struck for video releases, more informed audiences, etc.)?

2) How would you characterize your programming philosophy, with regard to the variety of films selected, preferred formats (retrospectives, thematic series, national surveys, double features, etc.), your attitude toward audience expectation, or other considerations?

3) Do you find that good quality prints continue to be available? Do you think film prints will continue to be struck and distributed, or is this a dying exhibition format? And if projecting from film is destined to become obsolete, how great a loss do you think this is? Are you open to screening video or digital formats?

4) How have your audiences changed over the years? Are they increasing or decreasing? Have their demographics changed, in terms of age or background? Have they become more or less receptive to challenging and innovative programs?

5) What are some of your formative memories of repertory filmgoing? Do you have stories of particularly unforgettable experiences, inspiring series, or legendary venues?
What surprised me is that in addition to the expected pessimism (competition and cultural changes haven't always been kind to movie theaters) the responses show some optimism and enthusiasm for the future. Worth a read.

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