Read Tim League's Essay on Why 35mm Film Deserves Your Respect
This past weekend, Alamo Drafthouse and Kodak partnered to host the very first annual "Reel Film Day" to celebrate 35mm cinema (official website). To mark the occasion, numerous classic films were projected in 35mm at all of the various Drafthouse locations around the country. In celebration of 35mm and the glory of cinema, Drafthouse founder/CEO Tim League wrote a passionate essay on Indiewire to commemorate the first Reel Film Day. The full essay is titled "35mm Film Deserves Your Respect: Alamo Drafthouse Founder Tim League Makes the Case" and it's a must read, not just because Tim is one of the smartest guys in this entire industry, but also because it's such a wonderfully vibrant reminder of the true value of art and film.
Here's an excerpt from Tim League's 35mm essay - one of the best parts. Read the full post on Indiewire.
I personally believe that the projection of film and public support for venues who continue to invest in film projection is integral to preserving our rich film history.
Ninety percent of films released in the silent era are gone… forever. Sure, the big classics were preserved, but vast swaths of films deemed at the time to have no historic significance hit the dumpsters and are now forever lost to the world. If you peruse old copies of the now-defunct cinema industry journal Motion Picture World from the 1910s and 1920s, your heart aches as you see page after page of ads for films you will never, ever have the chance to see.
Perhaps even more tragic, because it happened in my own lifetime, 30% of the films from the grand exploitation/drive-in era of the 1970s are similarly lost forever. The harsh reality is that America has a stunningly poor record when it comes to film preservation.
When the digital cinema revolution hit in the early 2000s and studios phased out 35mm prints altogether, another great purge of film history began again. The vast majority of cinemas threw away their film projectors in favor of new digital projectors. They switched from 35mm film to DCP digital files and never looked back. Without theaters to be able to play their wares, niche 35mm libraries and distributors shuttered their doors and many of these archives of film were lost and are not coming back.
Cinemas with only digital projectors have access to less than 5% of classic films on the DCP format. Without the ability to project film, theaters are confined to screen only new release movies and just the tiniest sliver of classic film.
Hear hear. He ends saying: "If you consider yourself a cinephile, if you love classic films and care about the preservation and legacy of our grand movie history, I encourage you to reflect on March 5th about the importance of independent theaters and get out of the house to watch a movie projected from film in one of these sacred spaces." I would add that this should be something you do as much as possible - every week, every day. Support your local art house cinemas, and support great films, especially those still being shown on 35mm. Since the start of FS, we've been strong supporters of the theatrical experience - and still adore the incomparable experience of seeing films in the cinema. I'm glad Tim is also a passionate supporter and always outspoken about what means the most to all of us who love movies more than anything else. Cheers.