Must Watch: Wonderful, Moving 'Portrait of a Projectionist' Short Doc

October 19, 2012

Portrait of a Projectionist

"I've spent more time with these projectors than I've spent with my family." The death of film. It's right around the corner. It's inevitable. But will it truly die off completely, or will it live on in the hearts of people like Ridwaan Fridie - a projectionist from South Africa. Ridwaan is profiled in this outstanding Vimeo short film called Portrait of a Projectionist, directed by filmmaker Philip Bloom. Whether you love 35mm, hate 35mm, love digital, hate digital, as long as you have a love for cinema in your heart, this short will bring a smile to your face and make you want to go to a 35mm movie theater right away. It's wonderful!

Intro from the Vimeo page: Portrait of Ridwaan Fridie. A film projectionist in the Labia Theatre (website link) in Cape Town, South Africa for the past 24 years but with big changes on the horizon where does that leave Ridwaan? For more details, see director Philip Bloom's blog post on the story of visiting/traveling through South Africa and finding Ridwaan. This mini-doc was filmed entirely on Canon DSLR cameras. I'm personally a huge sucker for anything that uses Claude Debussy's "Clair de lune" in an uplifting way, and it's perfect in this. Send this charming short doc around to everyone else you know and tell them to watch, too.

Find more posts: Feat, Short Film, To Watch



Having been a projectionist for 8 years myself, as part of the newer generation of 'kids', I certainly feel the pain in this documentary. I understand completely why this is happening, but it is sad to see it. I was an 'inbetweener' projectionist. Not and elder like Ridwaan, and not a part time unqualified kid either. I respected that equipment, the technology and the art of quality projection. Damn, I will miss those times.

Rick on Oct 19, 2012


Left my job as a projectionist just before the theatre fully converted to digital. At least with 35mm you could SEE what the problem was. And I'm still convinced that film has richer colours. Feel bad for those little theatres forced to convert or close.

Couch on Oct 19, 2012


Thanks for sharing this Alex, what an interesting idea for a documentary short. I have always thought that as a film fan, the most important aspect is the quality of the movies themselves. But the issue of projection directly impacts our moviegoing experience. Over the years, I have seen so many movies with framing or focus issues, etc. Sometimes I think that this isn't possibly what the director wanted his film to look like on the screen... A skilled projectionist is a filmmaker's best friend, and though they may survive in art house cinema for a bit longer, they are all but gone from the multiplexes now. The AMC where I live is nearly all digital. There have several problems recently at my theater with the digital projection, and whenever there is an issue the employees have trouble diagnosing/fixing it. Even IMAX, which was once (and still is to a lesser extent) the pinnacle of quality, has accepted digital projection because it allowed a larger and more cost-effective expansion of their brand. There is a full-length documentary called "Side by Side" (which I highly recommend) that looks at the film vs. digital debate - it deals more with the image capture side of things, but exhibition is included in the discussion.

John on Oct 19, 2012


very nice - i enjoyed listening to this man share his passion for the projectors.

beevis on Oct 20, 2012


That was great! In the cinema's where I am, it seems they just press a button and leave, sometimes the sound cut out and it took so long for someone to come to the booth that they had to stop the movie and refund the tickets. It's like the vinyl/cd/mp3 debate, vinyl still has the best depth of sound, but mp3's are cheaper to make. I think if you filks liked this, then you would probably enjoy some of the films over on this Vimeo Channel: http://vimeo.com/channels/thosewhomake It has a lot of really interesting and well shot/edited films about people who make stuff with their hands, meant to post a link before. See what yers reckon.

Carpola on Oct 20, 2012

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