Posted by: criavolver | April 28, 2011

State of Cinema Address: Christine Vachon

A producer of over 60 titles and 25 years of being in the cinematic game, Christine Vachon delivered a provocatively progressive speech or a heaping pile of Donkey discard (it all depends on who you talk too) at the State of Cinema address during the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 24th. She’s been at the forefront of independent cinema by taking risks. She’s been putting hard-hitting titles under her belt, including one of my favorites, Hedwig and the Angry Inch throughout her career. She’s also been on the cutting edge of cinema with her own production company Killer Films. Continues to be committed to emotionally demanding and impossible projects within the industry, such as Mildred Pierce, which aired on HBO recently. So how is it that Vachon spurred such controversy at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and online?

Antiquity is always admired. (Not the Sundance Kabuki Cinema but the Castro).

Vachon addressed the audience on Easter Sunday with crude honesty. She delivered the ugly truth of cinema’s undeniable change, especially when it comes to independent cinema. She stated that independent or not cinema’s consumption is changing. The film world (established independent filmmakers, critics and distributors) must not just sit and watch it happen in theaters. “The state of cinema is not necessarily in theaters” she stated during her speech. “What’s happening now is we have to be: budget agnostic, format agnostic, content agnostic and platform agnostic and that’s really exciting” she stated as [I can only assume] started the shudder among the audience full of independent filmmakers and watchers.

Vachon championed filmmakers moving to the medium of television while raising eyebrows to her HBO payroll. Commented on how contracts are now incorporating tweeting and facebook updates as part of productions job when promoting certain films. Mentioned that the internet can help in pioneering relationships between filmmakers and their audience members. But what critics (both in film and towards this year’s State of Cinema address) can only fixate was the lack of address of increasing theater seats. What everyone missed is that she is starting the conversation on how the internet can work with filmmakers instead of against. Right now we are currently breaching on what the internet can do for independent filmmakers. Distributorship is just beginning to see the light in the internet venture (with youtube finally introducing a movie monthly-stipend channel). Not to mention the growing markets for Netflix, mubi.com and hopefully, one day Hulu (who has “stolen” Criterion titles from Netflix).

As much as most of us want to fight it the internet is becoming an organic process. The experience of watching cinema within cinema will never truly die but it is drastically changing. How many of us are buying Data Projectors? Perhaps the backlash of Vachon’s speech was a mourn for the social aspect that the theater experience provides us. But the social is now moved onto a platform called twitter and it has everything to do with the internet.

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