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Amah-Rose McKnight-Abrams

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The Secret to the Future of Cinema?

Posted: 24/11/11 00:00

I pay to watch films online and I pay to download tracks - it's something that I feel very strongly about. But it's a personal thing and many people believe that they have a right to download films and music from the web. We must face the fact that mass distribution of films and music is changing, but don't they say that it's the way that you deal with a problem you should focus on, rather than the problem itself?

Future Cinema have been causing quite a stir recently. While they have not spent 'a dime' on advertising, according to co-founder Fabien Rigall, they have sold up to 18,000 tickets in a week to their cinematic events. Their offshoot, Future Shorts is currently hosting a global pop-up festival. I say hosting, although I am not entirely sure if that is the right word - Rigall calls it a "festival in a box". Six award-winning short films that are playing as part of Future Shorts in countries around the world. The numbers stand at 107 cities in 17 countries from New York to Bangladesh to an army camp in Iraq.

Although many of us may want to, we cannot heal the world's problems in the next week or so. But making aspects of culture which are seen as a western luxury available across the world is something which can bring light in, which is a start.

The Future Cinema crew are clearly pushing boundaries but Internet sites like MUBI, Dogwoof.tv and Vice are showing feature films and documentaries which (in the cases of Dogwoof and MUBI, Vice docs are free to watch) allow film lovers to pay for what they watch while accessing films which they wouldn't be able to otherwise.

I'm tempted to see this as the beginning of the end of cinema audiences being force fed rubbish on a mass scale and the audience gaining control of what they want to see and when. As with music, news and some aspects of high street shopping this industry is getting a shake up as people get to grips with the World Wide Web. It is as if the slew of information we are caught in is creating a big reaction in people pushing them to either be mesmerised by it or to totally escape it.

Fabien Rigall sees the popularity of Secret Cinema, where the audience buy tickets for an undisclosed film which is screened in an environment which mirrors it most politically, The Battle of Algiers, as a reaction to continuous forced thought. In our increasingly social media-led culture, Secret Cinema screenings make the total escapism of entering another world hugely appealing to so many people. He even speaks of, one day, releasing new feature films under Secret Cinema, freeing up money spent on big stars and advertising.

But I can't escape the wonderment of the blockbuster, this unwieldy beast lumbering along, a talentless star in one hand, a drug-addled scriptwriter in the other and a spent neurotic director hanging out of it's mouth.

But it is also this vision which makes me want to jump for joy at the idea of it being shaken up a bit, twinned with memories of searching for places to see less mainstream films and then either simply not finding anywhere or having to pay through the nose.

I am the person who likes to catch up on their favourite drama at 11.50pm on a weekday but I am also keen for people to be able to embrace different ways of watching films and still supporting the industry. Because I can't imagine a world without film, can you?

 

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