Friday, April 21, 2006

New York Times And Emerging Pictures Give Jem Cohen A Shout - At A Price

For some reason, Jem Cohen's Chain failed to pick up a full distribution deal. If we pool our hands, you and I can probably count the cinemas to have screened it on our fingers.

Now, though, folks in eleven more cities will get their chance to see it as it heads up a new Indie series from The New York Times and Emerging Pictures. One film a month will be given a run, over an eight month program, and at the end of the run, there will even be and award for the film voted "best" by the audiences. The prize will be $50,000, a bigger, higher-profile release in New York, LA and some other key markets, plus a screening on the Sundance Channel.

A shame that all eight aren't lined up for the Sundance Channel, or, for that matter, this half-hearted NY-LA-Somewhere distribution schema. How much do they really believe in these films?

I'm pleased to see any kind of screening for Chain, but I do have some issues with the approach being taken here. Cohen's films are resolutely analogue affairs, often composed of the most poetical Super 8 images you will ever see, other times, well, they are composed of the most poetical 16mm images you will ever see. Unfortunately, at least as far as this initial run goes, the film will be screened only digitally. And I don't expect this to be the full Texas Instruments 2k monty, but more like a jumped up DVD screening. It will the texture of the film that pays the price, and it may be that such concerns weren't really considered - the organisers thinking that the "story" or the "themes" are the be-all and end-all of the film, that a digital downgrade has no cost to the film.

But, to me, its a little like telling, say, Picasso that there isn't enough space in the gallery for his painting, that, instead, you're going to hang a scaled-down photocopy of it instead.

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