My Bologna Has A First Name....
Well, it's the day after the 87th Academy Awards show, and all of the social media feeds are still buzzing with the extreme navel-gazing frenzy that suits an industry built on the pursuit of fame and the cult of personality.
Lani Jo and I had other plans for Sunday evening (she went to see live theater and I watched the excellent Academy-ignored film THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING), and we didn't even check the winners list till late last night. We were happy to see that the sublime IDA won best foreign film and that CITIZENFOUR got the nod for documentary; both are films that should get wider exposure.
I guess I've never had much interest in any of the film or music industry award shows. Usually the films, directors and actors that I like best are either unrepresented or ignored in the outcome, and even when an outstanding performance or auteur work of genius is recognized, it's often upstaged by some banality.
It's not just that - I also object to the cloaked voting system, the misogynistic glare of the red carpet, and the long held tradition of "corrective" awards (giving a great actor an award for a lesser part). We just screened Spike Lee's MALCOLM X this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Not only was it completely ignored for best picture and director, but Denzel Washington's excellent nominated performance was passed over for Al Pacino in SCENT OF A WOMAN (if I ranked all of Al's performances, I doubt that I'd put that one in the top 25).
Are the awards important? Well, they certainly are monetarily - even a nomination can vastly increase the earnings of a particular film, and certainly boost the subsequent career of a nominee.
Now, I suppose it's reasonable to say that it's all just a good bit of fun, and not to be taken too seriously. I guess there's nothing wrong in viewing it as commercial entertainment. Friend of CST and uber-independent filmmaker Bob Moricz quipped that he was going to watch to "know his enemy".
But here's the thing - there's a real danger to elevating the awards as serious judgment, just as there is to measuring the success of a film on the box office draw. This puts the focus on the business of Hollywood much more than it recognizes the art of film. It tells us that these are the year's films 'worth seeing' - and these usually tend to be the safer, more corporate offerings from an industry that is all about the all-mighty dollar.
Well, at CST we steer clear of the mainstream. As a small, single screen house in a town that caters to the art house side of the industry, we would only be one of many showing a film like BOYHOOD, or BIRDMAN, or even IDA - and we don't choose to follow, even if it would mean a greater profit. I believe Lani Jo works harder than any booker in town to try and find the true hidden gems of modern indie cinema, and even our repertory choices are not 'safe' - they're meant to make a statement.
We can't hold these films long; it's rare that I can count the number of screenings on more than one hand. Because these are films with no marketing budget and limited release, it's also difficult for us to get any media coverage for many of them (we're lucky if they get our challenging schedule correct). Make sure you sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss a thing!
We're committed to bringing you films, world-views and voices that you just won't find anywhere else. And we hope that you'll agree that many of these choices simply kick-ass on the so-called 'best of Hollywood'.