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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Epiphany: James Schamus at sea

huey_lewis_and_the_news_5628.jpgIn Sunday’s NY Times biz section, Focus Features chief executive James Schamus gets “The Boss” treatment, and shares this lovely moment: “After bouncing around several colleges, I got my bachelor’s in English at U.C. Berkeley in 1982. In grad school there, my academic interests shifted from Milton to the history of cinema. One of my first teaching jobs was as an assistant for Prof. Carol Clover’s Ingmar Bergman class. Incredibly, this summer Ang Lee and I were invited to visit Bergman on his little island in the Baltic Sea. He’s 89 and has been my hero since I was a kid. He touched our faces as if we were small children, which, I suppose, we were. As Ang said, “You can dream of winning an Oscar, but you could never dream of this.”

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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