Film Experience(s) The current debate about film distribution, on the surface, is about how we should encounter films. Though it takes some good faith or naivety to assume that this discussion is really about art, we might as well play along, ride the waves and use this new channel to deepen the dialogue. text by Adam Harangozó
Having just a few strong voices can easily seem like they represent all the possible versions of the debate. It is tempting to oversimplify the Netflix vs. Cannes situation as having two poles, which can also be replaced with terms like cinema vs. VoD, traditional vs. modern, sacred vs. profane, etc. The whole narrative of taking sides is misleading however, as it implies that there is an “ideal” way for watching films. It is worth reminding ourselves there is a middle ground: the very diverse ways of how people actually distribute and access films. The following list is an eclectic and hectic glimpse into the various alternative modes of distribution which try to expand cinema audiences. Some of the projects approach film distribution by taking into account the different sociocultural and economic aspects of their target audience, others are inspired by the underlying ideas of internet, such as open access and decentralisation.
KineDok Coordinated by the Institute of Documentary Film, KineDok defines itself as a Central European community with the aim of providing alternative distribution of creative documentaries which might face difficulties in reaching a wider audience. By bringing cinema to non-traditional locations such as pubs, cafés, art galleries, film clubs, schools or even churches, they bridge the physical gap between the films and the audience while making the screenings more accessible in terms of ticket prices. 52 WOYC by Daazo.com
The project also intends to transform watching documentaries into a community experience by not only showing the film but also giving a chance for the audience to meet with the filmmakers, engage in dialogue, and reclaim the documentary genre in interactive ways.
Solar Cinema Watching films on the big screen is an experience – which not all of us can afford to have. THE PROJECT SET OUT TO DEMOCRATISE ACCESS TO CINEMA BY MOBILISING IT WITH SOLAR POWER AND TAKING IT TO PLACES FAR FROM TRADITIONAL VENUES. A high quality screening and sound system is transported and charged by vans equipped with solar panels. At night, they unfold into cinemas, transforming remote and unusual public places into open-air theatres. These self-sustainable movie theatres present free screenings of films, mostly shorts revolving around social and environmental issues. Starting out from the Netherlands, the network of solar cinemas reaches across the globe with initiatives in Australia, Brasil, Croatia, Indonesia, South Africa among others.
Magyarhangya National initiatives can also offer inspiring alternative outlets for film distribution in a changing or restricted market. One such venture is the Hungarian company Magyarhangya which tries to find community-based answers to the effects of online overload in a country with a shrinking cinema audience and a tiny independent film market. One of their early experiments was an event-based distribution of a Hungarian concert film: instead of showing it for a sustained period in half empty cinema halls, they organised a limited number of screenings taking place at different cities at the same time. Quickly sold out,