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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

New Yorker anti-Normal?: Colleges screening pix without pay

Some college film societies don’t read the warning labels and don’t realize they need a public exhibition license to show DVDs, reports Dave Newbart in the Chicago Sun-Times. “All the students in the Illinois State University Cinema Society wanted to do was get together, watch alternative films largely absent from theaters in Bloomington-Normal, and talk about the movies afterward.” Distributor New Yorker Films found their listings on the internet, and sent along an $8,000 bill for 20 titles they hold shown since 2000. newyorkerfilms84578475.jpg “I would call it a shakedown,” said ISU English professor Curt White, the cinema society’s adviser [and publisher of alternative press FC2]. “The effect of what they are doing is, there isn’t going to be any alternative cinema here.” New Yorker Films, per Newbart, with DVDs available, has “to be extra-diligent these days in enforcing copyrights.” Chicago’s Columbia College can’t afford to run a film club, claiming “the cost of the permission rights are prohibitive.” The student coordinator of ISU’s program, William Barker, “said the group’s budget has never exceeded $1,300, and that went toward promoting events and bringing in speakers. He said the group can’t afford the so-called catalog rates for showing 15 movies a semester. “In good conscience, I couldn’t ask [ISU] for $6,000 to show films,” Barker said.


His group has stopped the showings… New Yorker Films, however, says the university should show that it values film and pay the money. Companies won’t take a risk of distributing alternative films in the United States if they don’t get paid for showings… “If these films aren’t supported, they aren’t going to be released in this country,” Newbart quotes a New Yorker Films rep. [You can download a PDF of New Yorker Films’ stance from their website here.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch