Screening on Film and Video

Wed, Jul 15, 2009

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A colleague told me that one of his friends said he didn't attend our screening of Purple Rain last Thursday because he didn't want to watch it on DVD. I don't blame him. I wouldn't pay money to watch Purple Rain on DVD either. The only problem is that we didn't show it on DVD; we screened it in a 35mm print. In fact, all of the films in our Soundtrack Available series are being screened in 35mm film prints, including the newly-struck, 40th anniversary print of Easy Rider on August 20.

It's not hard to guess where the confusion might originate. Other venues in town don't necessarily make it clear whether they are showing a classic or repertory title on film or DVD and I've been disappointed on numerous occasions when I've made a trip to see a certain film only to find it is a projected DVD. On top of this, those covering film in Columbus don't make the distinction either which doesn't help their readers or those making the effort to present films in a proper manner. (We always note whether a work is film or video in our calendar, on our website, and across our various means of publicity.)

That's not to say we don't screen work on video. We do, often. But the work we screen on video is supposed to be screened on video. It was either shot on video (making a transfer to film unnecessary) or shot on film but distributed on video (usually a financial decision on the part of the distributor, not us or the other venues screening the work). For instance, on July 14 we screened the new documentary The Queen and I which was shot on video and is being released on video. But on July 16 we're screening Velvet Goldmine and The Virgin Suicides in 35mm – the way they were meant to be screened. We always do everything possible to show a work in the proper format, whether it is video, 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, 70mm, and, increasingly, high-definition video. It is safe to assume that if we are screening a classic – whether it is Citizen Kane or The 400 Blows, The Seventh Seal or Rebel Without a Cause or Raging Bull – it will be shown on film. If we don't it is because of some unforeseeable circumstance and I can only recall one instance in the past ten or so years when that has happened.

I realize that the distinction between film and video might not matter to some (or even most) but if you're reading this I assume it does. But rest assured, until things change and the whole world goes digital, we will present film on film and video on video.  — Dave Filipi, Curator, Film/Video