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Alternative approaches to entertainment distribution/consumption

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WorldForgot

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Reply #120 on: February 13, 2020, 05:34:00 PM
Timur Bekmambetov Is Making The First Vertical Blockbuster

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V2: Escape From Hell, the next film from filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, which according to Deadline will be the first major feature film shot in the vertical format. The Russian production, based on a true story, concerns "a captured Soviet pilot who leads an escape from a German concentration camp by hijacking an aircraft." Bekmambetov says the film is "about a man standing up and straightening his shoulders in spite of the circumstances. And about a rescue plane soaring up into the sky,” so he's clearly thought about how framing conventions will change in, for lack of a better word, Vertical Vision.

Bekmambetov is no stranger to experimentation with cinematic form. In addition to directing blockbusters like Ben-Hur and Wanted, he produced first-person action film Hardcore Henry and spearheaded the "screenlife" format, producing a number of films made as computer or smartphone screen captures. The resultant films have been surprisingly good - though the best of the bunch, Bekmambetov's own Profile, sadly has no scheduled release - and that's largely due to Bekmambetov's thoughtful engagement with developing the screenlife format's visual language. He also produced Dead of Night, a vertical-video zombie series shot for Snapchat.

V2 is being shot with smartphone audiences in mind, which makes sense. Part of the hatred for vertical video stems from its appearing cropped when viewed on a traditional horizontal-format screen; perhaps a smartphone release will ameliorate some of that. I for one am intrigued to see what it ends up looking like - if anyone's adept at turning cinematic language inside out successfully, it's Bekmambetov - though I'm certainly skeptical. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but human beings simply see in widescreen - our eyes are next to each other, not on top of one another - and I've never watched anything shot vertically that wouldn't have been better the other way around.

V2: Escape From Hell goes into production next week with a budget of $10 million, and is scheduled for mobile-centric release early next year in both Russian and English-language versions.

One day we'll experience the theater hall masking vertical...


wilberfan

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Reply #121 on: February 13, 2020, 05:59:24 PM
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Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but human beings simply see in widescreen - our eyes are next to each other, not on top of one another.

Let's make a epic, wide-screen re-telling of the Shackleton expedition to the South Pole--and project it UPSIDE-DOWN in the northern hemisphere!  It'll be awesome!  And patrons will wear special boots that contain dry-ice, so they can really FEEL the frostbite!
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Sleepless

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Reply #122 on: February 14, 2020, 09:19:43 AM
This is like, what, the third horseman of the apocalypse? Sorry, I've lost count where we're at...
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Drenk

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Reply #123 on: February 14, 2020, 09:37:50 AM
I've probably already posted the YouTube video about vertical videos, one of the jokes was: George Lucas will be able to release another version of Star Wars. Yes. That was old. Now, websites post vertical videos on YouTube...Like...It wasn't even filmed vertically, what the hell...
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wilberfan

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The move places the digital giant, which estimated 42 billion visits to the site last year, in the company of other streamers seeking to expand audiences and diversify its content portfolios. The movie in question is the documentary “Shakedown,” from filmmaker and conceptual artist Leilah Weinraub. It hails from the upper echelons of the art world, where the project enjoyed a prestige rollout in exhibits at the Whitney Museum and MoMA over the last three years.
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wilberfan

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AMC Theatres Faces Existential Threat From Coronavirus Shutdown: ‘I Don’t See How They Survive’
“We’re witnessing the single greatest disruption of the film industry in American history,” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of private equity firm The Patriarch Organization

AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain with more than 630 venues in the U.S., faces an existential threat after the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to close all of its theaters in the U.S. and U.K. for the next six to 12 weeks.

The debt-laden exhibitor’s stock price has plummeted 83% in the last year, finishing Tuesday’s trading session below $3 a share as its market cap has shrunk to just $271 million. All of this raises questions about whether it will still be left standing when the dust of COVID-19 eventually settles.

“I don’t see how they survive this,” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of private equity firm The Patriarch Organization. And B.Riley FBR analyst Eric Wold on Wednesday downgraded AMC’s stock from a buy rating to neutral and cut the price target to $3.50 from $13.

AMC was in a precarious state even before the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than $5 billion in debt at the end of 2019 and losses of $149 million for the year (after recording a $110 million profit in 2018). During the company’s most recent fourth quarter conference call, AMC CEO Adam Aron said that he and other top executives had agreed to cut their salaries and bonuses for three years in exchange for stock that would only vest if the share price doubles.

One industry insider told TheWrap that the company’s aggressive spending on acquisitions of chains like Carmike and the start of the A-List subscription moviegoing program has put it in a worse short-term position than other national theater chains like Cinemark.

AMC spent millions to build up its A-List service, an alternative to the now-defunct MoviePass that has lured 900,000 subscribers since its June 2018 launch but only turned a profit in the most recent fourth quarter.

In recent years, the company has also gone on an acquisition spree, buying Odeon and UCI Cinemas Holdings along with Carmike Cinemas in 2016, and Nordic Cinema Group in 2017.

For a while, AMC had a financial parachute from Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, which acquired a majority stake in 2012. But in 2018 Wanda scaled down its position in the theater chain as Chinese regulators incentivized companies to cut back on their foreign holdings. AMC then turned to private equity firm Silver Lake, closing a $600 million investment in September 2018.

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated AMC’s predicament. Schiffer said this is simply a show of how flawed the theatrical release system is. “We’re witnessing the single greatest disruption of the film industry in American history,” he said. “It’s a horrifying example of how vulnerable the ecosystem has become.”

Not only has the spread of the coronavirus led to the closure of AMC and its rivals’ theaters, but it threatens to upend studios’ theatrical and business model. Studios have delayed productions and pushed release dates, and worse, some have decided to squeeze the theatrical window between an in-theater and video-on-demand home releases on titles like Warner Bros.’ “Birds of Prey” and Universal’s “Trolls World Tour.”

Lightshed media analyst Rich Greenfield told TheWrap that if the “Trolls” on-demand release works, we could see a major change in how the major studios approach theatrical distribution. Debates around changing theatrical windows have been happening in Hollywood for years, but coronavirus has hastened studios’ willingness to innovate.

The writing’s been on the wall so long in fact that in October AMC entered the home entertainment business, launching a video-on-demand service that will be available to members of its AMC Stubs customer loyalty program.

“If we take a step back and look at the wider picture, there’s been a move to streaming, this just escalates it,” Schiffer said. “This is catastrophic for the industry, and it will forever change the industry because you’re engraining in people new behaviors.”

There are many questions that remain unanswerable, including how long the shutdown will last — and how quickly consumers will return to cinemas even if the pandemic subsides. “How many people are going to feel comfortable sitting in a crowded theater still come September?” Schiffer said.

While Wold lowering estimates for the company’s revenue through 2021, he told investors that he didn’t see any long-term impact to AMC or the the industry from moves like Universals to release “Trolls World Tour” direct to consumers.

“Not only do we view this as a unique and strategic move being taken by Universal to take advantage of the significant marketing dollars that have been spent ahead of those releases and to counter the adverse impacts of ‘social distancing’ and recently-impacted moviegoing demand, we continue to believe that this is not a strategy that can be financially successful for most big-budget, high-profile titles — and would expect this move (and possibly others) to be very unique to the near-term outlook and not one that would linger into the second half of 2020 or 2021 as the theaters reopen to the public,” Wold wrote.

“We will assume that attendance and revenues are essentially eliminated until at least the end of April,” he continued. “Although this will create a meaningful strain on AMC’s balance sheet in the coming weeks, we believe the company has the ability to preserve necessary cash by reducing variable operating expenses and near-term capital expenditure spending”

The potential long-lasting ripple effects the pandemic could have on Hollywood aside, the nation’s largest movie theater chain being forced to lock its doors as its shares inch further and further down does not bode well.

The pandemic is likely to sink domestic grosses for 2020 below $8 billion for the first time since 2000, analysts have said, and perhaps more troubling is that admissions could fall below 1 billion tickets sold for the first time since 1976.

“It’s going to be very difficult for them to survive this, they’re going to eat through so much of their cash. They’re likely hoping for some sort of federal bailout,” Schiffer said. “The damage AMC and the motion picture industry has endured has been exacerbated by a banana republic approach to how to fix this… You’ll see a lot of people lose their jobs and some companies are likely going to go under.”

https://www.thewrap.com/amc-theatres-survive-coronavirus/
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wilder

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Distrib Kino Lorber & U.S. Indie Theaters Launch Virtual Exhibition Program With Revenue Splits & Holdovers To Help Offset Coronavirus Closures; Cannes Pic ‘Bacurau’ First Up
via Deadline

Here’s another story of enterprise and innovation among the coronavirus destruction.

U.S. arthouse distributor Kino Lorber is launching a virtual theatrical exhibition initiative called Kino Marquee to enable movie theaters shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak to continue to serve their audiences and generate revenue.

Virtual holdovers will be determined by performance, and revenue will be split between distributor and exhibitor. The initiative is also designed to let movie audiences support their local theaters.

The initiative has been designed to emulate the moviegoing experience as much as possible. Films will be booked from Fridays to Thursdays and presented on dedicated web pages headed by each theater’s branded marquee.

The first Kino Marquee screenings are with New York’s Film at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Jacob Burns Film Center. All will open with Kino Lorber’s well-received Cannes Film Festival title Bacurau, which would otherwise now be on screen in each venue. Other titles are due in coming weeks.

There is a universal price point of $12 and 12 theaters have signed up to date. Scroll down for the list of venues. Invitations are going to all sixty theaters across the U.S. who had already committed to book the film.

Although Kino Marquee is hosted on Kino Lorber’s recently launched Kino Now VOD platform, visitors to the Kino Now website will not be able to navigate to theaters’ virtual screening rooms. Rather, each theater will promote their own film page via traditional means, including reviews, eblasts and social media posts. Virtual ‘ticket’ buyers from the theater’s Kino Marquee site will receive a link that gives them admission to an online screening room.

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and starring Sônia Braga and Udo Kier, Bacurau won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and went on to play Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Set in a near-future Brazil, the film follows a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all the residents of a village.

FLC opened Bacurau on March 6 and posted good numbers until they elected to close on March 12 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prioritize the health of their community, and which included cancelling a Q&A with the directors who were over from Brazil. BAM opened the film on March 13 only to show it one day before being forced to shut down, and Jacob Burns had to cancel their March 13 opening that morning.

“When theaters started to close, we at Kino Lorber turned our thoughts to how we could collaborate with our independent theater partners across the country. We cannot release the kinds of films we do without their support,” said Wendy Lidell, SVP of Theatrical Distribution at Kino Lorber.

“Of course we wanted to find a way to keep our current film release in front of audiences, but to do so in a way that would also benefit our exhibition partners. We want to help ensure that these theaters will be able to reopen their doors after this crisis passes. The Kino Marquee program offers an opportunity for theaters to generate revenue while their doors are closed.”

Theaters currently aboard:
Film at Lincoln Center (New York, NY)
BAM (Brooklyn, NY)
Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY)
The Little Theatre (Rochester, NY)
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Riviera Theatre (Santa Barbara, CA)
The Frida Cinema (Santa Ana, CA)
Denver Film / Sie FilmCenter (Denver, CO)
Belcourt Theater (Nashville, TN)
Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ)
Austin Film Society (Austin, TX)
Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH)
Aperture Cinema (Winston Salem, NC)


wilberfan

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This is very compassionate and smart, right?

Netflix sets up $100-million coronavirus relief fund for Hollywood workers

While the world turns to Netflix for entertainment during the coronavirus crisis, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming giant is lending a hand to workers who’ve lost their jobs from production cancellations.

The company said it was creating a $100-million fund to provide emergency support to workers on its productions, including electricians, carpenters and drivers, said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, in a blog post Friday.

With almost all television and film production now shuttered globally, hundreds of thousands of crew and cast are without jobs, he said.

Some $15 million of the fund will be directed toward helping the broader television and film industry via third parties and nonprofit agencies providing emergency relief to out-of-work cast and crew in the countries where Netflix has a large production base.

“Most of the fund will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on our own productions around the world,” Sarandos said in the statement. “We’re in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production. This is in addition to the two weeks’ pay we’ve already committed to the crew and cast on productions we were forced to suspend last week.”

As the coronavirus has spread worldwide, productions have been forced to close and more than 100,000 workers across the entertainment industry are estimated to have lost work.

“This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide,” Sarandos said.

Netflix said it would donate $1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA COVID-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the U.S., and $1 million between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes. In Europe, Latin America and Asia, where Netflix has a big production presence, the company said it is working with existing industry organizations to create similar community emergency relief efforts.

A group of unions in media, arts and entertainment called on the federal government Friday to help workers in the industry, many of whom are paid from job to job and have no access to state unemployment relief.

“Overnight, production and performances industry-wide shut down indefinitely, leaving most entertainment and media workers without a source of income to cover essential expenses,” said the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, in a statement Friday. “Workers who are left without a paycheck and may not qualify for unemployment have no recourse unless Congress acts now.”

AFL-CIO (DPE) is a coalition of 24 unions representing more than 4 million professional and technical union members.

Groups including the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the founders of the #PayUpHollywood movement have launched relief funds to help assistants and other workers.

Several prominent writers, Hollywood producers and others donated more than $300,000 online for assistants facing loss of work.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents more than 150,000 entertainment industry workers, on Tuesday said it committed $2.5 million in donations to three charities: the Actors Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and the Actors Fund of Canada.
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eward

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Nice. If only I still worked for them. C'mon, CBS...
Everyone has a heart and it's calling for something
And we're all so sick and tired of seeing things as they are...


wilder

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Kino Marquee Virtual Arthouse Program Expands To 150 Cinemas With Alamo Drafthouse & Laemmle In Streaming Cannes Winner ‘Bacurau’
via Deadline

Kino Lorber’s Kino Marquee initiative, which looks to help arthouses at a time when they’ve been shuttered in the coronavirus climate, has mushroomed from 12 theaters last week to 150 including Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle Theaters.



For the price of $12, Kino Marquee is streaming last year’s Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, Bacurau, on arthouses’ regional cinema websites. Those who pay to watch the Sonia Braga movie, say on the Laemmle site, the profits are then split between the theater and Kino Lorber. The Kino Marquee was launched to enable movie audiences to continue to support their local theaters by paying to view pics digitally during the nationwide shutdown of theaters.

Each rental of Bacurau lasts fives days, and there’s a virtual Q&A with filmmakers and cast hosted by BAM which will be available for all to watch on Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm ET. Kino Lorber also plans to offer top films from other independent distributors via Kino Marquee.

Here’s an example of what the Kino Marquee looks like on LA’s Laemmle site. Kino Lorber is helping each chain build out their virtual streaming web pages. Each theater will then promote to their moviegoing memberships via their newsletters about upcoming Kino and sister Zeitgeist label movies.

Specific movie theaters will stream Bacurau during specific dates and you can find that rollout schedule here which is constantly updating.

Ken Loach’s festival favorite Sorry We Missed You is also currently available through Kino Marquee with Film Forum in New York, where the film’s theatrical premiere (launched March 4) was cut short by the theater’s closure. Multiple cities will follow later this week.

Kino Lorber President and CEO Richard Lorber said, “We’ve all been thrust into a brave new cinema world. Kino Marquee offers film lovers and the theaters a way to mutually support each other – audiences can keep going to newly released movies and theaters can keep selling tickets to great cinematic experiences online. We offer Kino Marquee as a lifeline to help keep art house cinemas in business and keep the work of top independent filmmakers under the halo of first release virtual screens.”

“We’re grateful for our partners at Kino Lorber, who are leading the charge in Virtual Cinema screenings that support theaters like Alamo Drafthouse,” said Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO. “We’re happy to be able to share Bacurau with our audience and continue celebrating our shared film culture.”

Museum of Fine Arts Curator of Film & Video Marian Luntz added, “The nimble initiative of Kino Lorber to launch Kino Marquee is a fantastic response to the serious and totally unexpected situation we are all sharing. Our devoted filmgoers, along with others across the U.S., can watch spring releases everyone planned to see in our theaters, keeping them engaged with our programming and contemporary world cinema. We hope everyone will remain safe and healthy while taking advantage of Bacurau and other films we plan to offer.” The MFAH launched their virtual theater today to screen the film.

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and starring Braga and Udo Kier, Bacurau is set in a near-future Brazil, and follows a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all the residents of a village.


wilberfan

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I've already considered 'renting' ONCE WERE BROTHERS--quite eager to see it.  But I've also considered waiting until it comes around--and saving the $12 for kindling when I'm living in the back yard and cooking squirrels for sustenance.  I did buy a Laemmle Gift Card to help support them in our collective hour of need, though.
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eward

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Once Were Brothers is one of the last things I got to see on a big screen before all this craziness went down. I say splurge! It doesn't reinvent the form or anything, but if you're into its subject you should find it plenty satisfying.
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wilberfan

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A Post-Coronavirus Entertainment World Will Not Be ‘Business as Usual’
by TREY WILLIAMS | April 7, 2020 @ 6:00 AM
“Some spaces might need to adapt their configurations to account for people’s health consciousness,” Stanford University Assistant Professor Kathryn Olivarius says

Hollywood and the entertainment industry face an existential crisis: There’s no certainty that when the clearance is given for theaters to reopen and concerts and sporting events to resume that consumers will flock back to those often crowded spaces.

Two questions persist as we enter our fourth week of coronavirus-forced shutdowns: When will this all be over? And what does a world post COVID-19 even look like?

“If you think about in terms of the behaviors of people, this is an unprecedented event,” UCLA social sciences dean Darnell Hunt said. “Just by the sheer impact of this, I can’t imagine that things go back to business as usual… clearly culture has been affected.”

The sentiment is widespread.

Actor Kumail Nanjiani wrote on Twitter as most people entered week three of self-isolating, that he couldn’t imagine shaking another hand once the pandemic subsides. It may have been a joke, or a slight exaggeration, but what it isn’t is an outrageous nor frivolous thing to say.

Hollywood has all but punted on the pivotal summer movie season. With the novel coronavirus continuing to spread in the U.S., movie theaters are forced to remain closed and folks confined to their homes. Authorities suggest the lockdowns could extend well into the summer, but there’s no knowing precisely when stay-at-home orders might be lifted; or more concerning, when things will go back to normal — whatever that looks like now.

Studios have already pulled virtually all their movies set to come out in the next couple months from the release slate, pushing them to later in the year or into 2021, and in some cases jettisoning them to streaming services.

Some experts have pointed to post-September 11 America and what it was like to go to the airport and fly in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The last time Disney closed its theme parks, until the coronavirus pandemic, was after 9/11. While the circumstances were very different, and the repercussions felt most intensely in air travel, the unprecedented nature of the events is useful in illustrating how change happens in a society and in the behavior of individuals.

“All of the things that we used to do in person are still important to us to do. Humans are social animals,” Hunt said. “But I suspect that going forward, people are going to be a lot more cautious and wary.”

John Sloss, founder of  indie film financing and distribution company Cinetic Media, said that while there will certainly be vested interest in helping movie theaters rebound from the pandemic, cinema operators shouldn’t just assume audiences will be willing to frequent theaters again right away.

“There’s going to be a lot of change in consumer habits, and if home premieres like ‘Trolls World Tour’ really work out well with families, they may find that they prefer seeing a brand new movie with their kids in the comfort of their own homes rather than driving out and paying for parking and other things,” Sloss said, referring to Universal’s decision to skip a theatrical release for the animated “Trolls” sequel in favor of a video on-demand release set for this week.

A study published last week by Performance Research, a sports and events research firm, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., said that consumers are having trepidation about returning to event spaces after the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the study, 51% of the more than 1,000 U.S. consumers said it would take them a few months or longer to return to indoor sports or concert venues, while 44% reported the same for outdoor venues. Similarly, 33% indicated they will likely attend indoor sports or concert venues less often post-pandemic, while just 26% reported the same for outdoor venues.

“Everyone’s likely going to err on the side of caution,” Comscore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “People are going to be forever changed by this. Not sure if there’ll be a revolution in terms of behaviors, but there will almost certainly be an evolution… social distancing is something that will likely remain in the culture.”

At the onset of the coronavirus spread in the U.S., before movie theaters were forced to shut down completely, many of the major chains instituted social distancing seating, whereas seats were left open between moviegoers. Experts, including Dergarabedian, predict that practices such as those will likely remain for the time being.

Kathryn Olivarius, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, pointed to 19th century New Orleans as one historic model for a post-COVID society.

“City authorities always shut down theaters and operas when outbreaks of yellow fever became serious enough. But the moment restrictions were lifted again (after the first mosquito-killing frosts), every seat was full,” Olivarius said. “That may say more about the particular culture of yellow fever in New Orleans — or the Deep South’s rapacious capitalism — than the human need to return to normalcy.”

Consumer behaviors post-coronavirus, she said, will likely face long-term changes, as social distancing orders continue for months or even trickle into years.

“Already, people are getting used to being at home all the time, working on Zoom and putting on Netflix. Already, it feels reflexive to give other people a huge berth when walking outside,” Olivarius said. “I’d bet people will go to the movies again, and eat at restaurants, and dance in flower-crowns at Coachella, etc., but they might be more epidemiologically conscious, even nervous for a while. And some spaces might need to adapt their configurations to account for people’s health consciousness.”

Source

I'm sure this has been studied--and things are certainly different now culturally and globally--but I wonder what the post "Spanish Flu (1918)" recovery was like.  I wonder what behaviors changed in that aftermath--and how long it took for them to fade away (and maybe which one's never did)?
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Sleepless

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Doesn't look like we have a dedicated/evergreen Southby thread, so putting this here...

Here’s The SXSW 2020 Festival Slate To Launch On Prime Video April 27

Amazon Prime Video and SXSW have set a 39-film launch on April 27-May 6 for Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection. That is the virtual version of the Austin-Texas festival that got canceled in the pandemic. As Deadline reported, filmmakers accepted to SXSW were given the option to have their films play in this online film festival, and have their films viewable free to anyone who has a free Amazon account.

“SXSW has always championed creators forging their own paths to success, often with just the right mix of passion, vision and radical experimentation to make their dreams happen,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film, SXSW. “There is no one-size-fits-all, especially in these uncertain times, and we knew this opportunity would be of interest to those filmmakers who wanted to be in front of a large audience now. We believe people will be captivated by this selection of intriguing work that would have been shown at our 2020 event.”

Said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke: “We understand every film has its own strategy and we know this opportunity may not make sense for every filmmaker. However, for those who want to share their stories right now and with as many people as possible, we’re excited to provide them this platform. Until we are able to be together in person again, we hope this program allows these wonderful stories to virtually reach film lovers everywhere in the country.”

There will be panels and Q&As through the Alma Har’el-founded Free The Work. “Amazon’s SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection is giving a platform to work that would have been celebrated at this year’s festival,” said Har’el, who helmed Honey Boy. “Free The Work’s mission is to find new pathways to the discovery of underrepresented creators and we’re excited to help celebrate, spotlight, and provide a platform for the voices of these talented filmmakers.”

Here are the films that will be viewable on Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/sxsw:

NARRATIVE FEATURES

Cat in the Wall / Bulgaria, UK, France (Directors, screenwriters and producers: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova) — This terrific comedy-drama is set on a southeast London council estate, which is riven by social and economic divisions and threatened by the all-consuming force of gentrification. Irina, a Bulgarian woman lives there with her small son and her brother. The lift serves as a toilet, the multi-cultural residents exchange shouts rather than pleasantries, and an expensive refurbishment is undesired but must be paid for. And in the midst of this: an apparently ownerless cat which has had enough of the heated atmosphere barricades itself ‘in the wall’, requiring the residents to collaborate. Cat in the Wall is an arresting critique of society, a whirlpool of emotions from despair to joie de vivre conveyed by strongly delineated characters. This heart-warming tale, shot in a documentary style, is this year’s equivalent of director Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. Cast: Irina Atanosova, Angel Genov, Gilda Waugh

Gunpowder Heart / Guatemala (Director and screenwriter: Camila Urrutia, Producer: Inés Nofuentes) — Claudia and Maria have fallen in love. They live in the city of Guatemala, a city full of stories related to abuse, unforgiving police officers, and charming secret corners. Everything changes one night when they are attacked by three men. They manage to escape but they now have to choose if they want revenge. Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández

Le Choc du Futur / France (Director and screenwriter: Marc Collin, Co-Writer: Elina Gakou-Gomba, Producers: Marc Collin, Nicolas Jourdier, Gaelle Ruffier) — In the Paris of 1978, old formulas do not charm listeners anymore and new music must arise. In a male-dominated industry, Ana uses her electronic gadgets to make herself heard, creating a new sound that will mark the decades to come: the music of the future. Cast: Alma Jodorowsky, Philippe Rebbot, Clara Luciani

Selfie / France (Directors: Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain, Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat, Vianney Lebasque, Screenwriters: Giulio Callegari, Noé Debré, Hélène Lombard, Julien Sibony, Bertrand Soulier, Producers: Mandoline Films, Chez Georges Productions) — Algorithms, Technophobics, Dating App addicts, Vloggers, cloud security breach… each one of us can relate to the wired madness happening on screen. In five subversive and hilarious Black Mirror-like tales, Selfie takes on our digital shortcomings and shows how the new 2.0 era is driving all of us nuts! Cast: Blanche Gardin, Manu Payet, Elsa Zylberstein

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me / U.S. (Director and Producer: Karen Bernstein, Co-Producer: Nevie Owens) — Fellini meets Motown in I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, the tragi-comedic tale of one man’s search for self-acceptance, a journey that included tabloid celebrity, Tupperware parties, and two coming-outs — first as a straight woman, then as the gay man he was born to be. Cast: Brian Belovitch aka “Tish,” Gloria Walker, Michael Musto

My Darling Vivian / U.S. (Director: Matt Riddlehoover, Producers: Dustin Tittle, Matt Riddlehoover) — The story of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Includes never-before-seen footage and photographs of Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash, as well as footage featuring Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, John C. Reilly and many more.

TFW NO GF / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Lee Moyer, Producers: Adam Bhala Lough, Cody Wilson, Ariel Pink, Alex Lee Moyer, Michael Reich, John Eisenman, Matt Ornstein, Claire Bargout, Deagan White, Barrett Avner) — Born from the internet, the phrase “TFW NO GF” was originally used online to describe a lack of romantic companionship. Since then, it has evolved to symbolize a greater state of existence defined by isolation, rejection and alienation. The meme’s protagonist, “WOJAK,” has become the mascot to a vast online community consisting of self-described “hyper-anonymous twenty somethings” and “guys who slipped between the cracks.” TFW NO GF asks: How has the zeitgeist come to bear down on a generation alienated by the ‘real world’? Meet the lost boys who came of age on the internet in places like 4chan and Twitter, where they find camaraderie in despair.

NARRATIVE SHORTS

A Period Piece / U.S., France (Director and screenwriter: Shuchi Talati, Producer: Esra Saydam, Co-Producer: Claire Chassagne) — Geetha, a control and order loving Indian-American woman, finally has sex with Vehd one afternoon but things quickly turn messy, causing a fight to erupt mid-coitus. Cast: Sonal Aggarwal, Nardeep Khurmi

Basic / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Chelsea Devantez, Co-Producer: Kevin Walsh) — Basic is a very, very, very short film about a dumb lil’ ho doing lil’ ho things. Starring Nelson Franklin (Veep, Abby’s, Blackish), Georgia Mischak (Arrested Development, Love), and Chelsea Devantez (Bless This Mess, Abby’s), who also wrote and directed. It’s a darkish comedy exploring the insecure lil’ ho in all of us.

Blocks / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Bridget Moloney, Producers: Kate Chamuris, Kristin Slaysman, Valerie Steinberg) — An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit toy blocks. Cast: Claire Coffee, Mark Webber, Ruha Taslimi

Broken Bird / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Rachel Harrison Gordon) — Birdie, a biracial girl raised by her Jewish mom in a New Jersey suburb, spends a rare day with her father while preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. She overcomes her doubts, and decides to risk inviting him back into her life. Birdie confronts what independence means as she steps into adulthood on her own terms. Cast: Indigo Hubbard-Salk, Chad L. Coleman

Daddio / U.S. (Director, screenwriter, and producer: Casey Wilson, Co-Writer: Laura Kindred, Co-Producers: Ursula Camack, Laura Kindred, Adam Silver) — Daddio is a comedy about death. A year after the sudden passing of their beloved wife and mother, a dad and daughter grapple with life after loss. Grief looks very different on both of them. Paul, played by Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, Spinal Tap), is manic. He gets a perm and begs neighbors to hot tub with him. Abby, played by Casey Wilson (SNL, Happy Endings, Black Monday) is depressed. She sleeps in her closet and uses a shopping cart for a laundry basket. At its heart, Daddio is a love story between a father and daughter after the unimaginable has happened. Based on real death events. Cast: Michael McKean, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael

Dirty / U.S. (Director: Matthew Puccini, Producers: Cecilia Delgado, Jeremy Truong, Matthew Puccini) — Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend. Things do not go as planned. Cast: Morgan Sullivan, Manny Dunn

Face to Face Time / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Izzy Shill) — Claire takes the bold step of initiating a FaceTime call, only to discover Danny’s flaccid enthusiasm for her. Cast: Izzy Shill, Sean Patrick McGowan

Father of the Bride / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Rhys Marc Jones, Producer: Alex Polunin) — The best man attempts to keep face and deliver his speech at his brother’s wedding, following an advance in the hotel bathroom by the father of the bride. Cast: Jay Lycurgo, Dominic Mafham, Marcus Rutherford, Isabelle Connolly

Figurant / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Jan Vejnar, Producers: Origine Films / Silk Films) — A man follows a group of workers coming for daywork in an industrial area. Soon, he’s stripped from his clothes and identity, dressed in a military uniform and armed. His determination not to fall behind the others is then tested by a series of unsettling events. Cast: Denis Lavant

Reminiscences of the Green Revolution / Phillipines, U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Dean Colin Marcial, Producer: Armi Rae Cacanindin) — A ghost story about love and eco-terrorism in the Philippines. Cast: Annicka Dolonius, Sid Lucero, Abner Delina Jr.

Runon / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Newell Kaufman, Producer: Lizzie Shaprio) — All Luke and his mom have are two garbage bags full of clothes, and two tickets out of town on the midnight Greyhound. Like he’s assembling a puzzle, Luke has to figure out the why of it — all before the person they’re running from puts together the pieces. Cast: Erin Markey, Luke Visiage, Mike Alonzo

Single / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Ashley Eakin, Producer: Connie Jo Sechrist) — A girl born with one arm goes on a blind date with a guy who has one hand…and she is pissed! Cast: Delaney Feener, Jordan Wiseley

SOFT / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Antebi, Producers: Casey Bader, Reid Hannaford, Nicole Quintero Ochoa) — Sam — 16, queer, and falling in love — struggles to untangle himself from his abusive martial arts coach. Cast: Josh Lerner, Benicio Franqui, Alex Kramer

Still Wylde / U.S., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Ingrid Haas, Producers: Devin Lawrence, Katie White) — Gertie and her sometimes boyfriend, Sam, are faced with a major life decision only to realize that even when they know what they want, life has other plans. Cast: Ingrid Haas, Barry Rothbart, Sabrina Jalees

Summer Hit / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Berthold Wahjudi, Producers: Melissa Byrne, Philipp Link) — Laia from Spain and Emil from Iceland are Erasmus students in Munich. After having sex for a couple of times, Emil professes his love to Laia — but she panics and runs away. Now the two have to figure out whether they are more than just a summer fling. Cast: Martina Roura, Atli Benedikt, Katrin Filzen

The Voice in Your Head / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Graham Parkes, Producer: Brendan Garrett) — A surreal comedy about an office worker who has resigned himself to spending every waking hour tortured by the negative voice in head, until a concerned co-worker decides to take action. Cast: Lewis Pullman, Mat Wright, Trian Longsmith

Vert / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Kate Cox, Producers: Nick Rowell, Sophie Reynolds, Gabriele Lo Giudice) — Emelia (BAFTA Nominee Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jeff (Nick Frost) are an open-minded couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary by venturing into the Virtual world of “Vert” together. Vert presents them with a character that is their ‘ideal self’ and what is supposed to be re-awakening for them as a couple becomes the unearthing of Jeff’s secret. Cast: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Nick Frost, Olivia Vinall

Waffle / U.S. (Director: Carlyn Hudson, Screenwriters and producers: Katie Marovitch, Kerry Barker, Co-Producers: Pamela Robison, Bridgett Greenberg) — Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship — in a society that grows ever isolating — is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants. Cast: Katie Marovitch, Kerry Barker, Raphael Chestang

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

Affurmative Action / U.S. (Director: Travis Wood) — An exploration of workplace diversity through “meet the team” pages.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Christine Turner, Producer: Erin Wright) — At 93, there’s no stopping when it comes to the legendary artist Betye Saar.

Broken Orchestra / U.S., Canada (Director: Charlie Tyrell, Screenwriter: Josef Beeby, Producer: Julie Baldassi) — A documentary short about the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra,, which collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.

Call Center Blues / U.S. (Director: Geeta Gandbhir, Producer: Jessica Devaney) — Call Center Blues is a lyrical portrait of an unlikely community of US deportees and their loved ones struggling to rebuild their lives in Tijuana, Mexico.

Dieorama / U.S. (Director: Kevin Staake, Producer: Ryen Bartlett) — Abigail Goldman spends her work days as an investigator for a public defender’s office in Washington state, helping people who are seriously in trouble—which can mean hours of staring at grisly pictures of crime scenes, visiting morgues, even observing autopsies. By night, she dreams up gruesome events, which she then turns into tiny, precise dioramas. Rife with scenes of imminent death and brutal dismemberment, the fruits of Goldman’s painstaking labor would be adorable … if they weren’t so disturbing. In this new documentary short, we follow along as Goldman brings her miniature worlds of murder and mayhem to life with tweezers, paint, and resin, and meet the people who just can’t get enough of her twisted visions—where the final touch is always, in the artist’s words, “two or three brushstrokes of red paint.”

Hiplet: Because We Can / U.S. (Director and producer: Addison Wright) — Created with the intention to inspire young Black women, this film brings the Hiplet™ [hip-lay] ballerinas to center stage. With elements of a Short Film, Music Video, and Documentary, this artistic work showcases not only the talent of the Hiplet ballerinas, it also gives them a platform to discuss the challenges they have faced with giving traditional ballet a hip new twist. Cast: Homer Hans Bryant, Jayda Perry, Nia Parker

Lions in the Corner / U.S. (Director: Paul Hairston, Producer: Jake Ewald) — In Virginia, Scarface started Streetbeefs in his backyard to combat gun and knife violence in the area. Soon it turned into something much more for the men involved. Cast: Chris Wilmore

Mizuko (Water Child) / U.S. (Directors: Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane, Screenwriter: Kira Dane, Producer: Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute) — In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko (Water Child) is a partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

Modern Whore / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Nicole Bazuin, Producer: Lisa Baylin) — Former escort Andrea Werhun shares the ins and outs of escort review board culture, exposing the complexities of sexual power and social stigma in a post-#MeToo world. Cast: Andrea Werhun, Chester Brown, Michael Cuddy

No Crying at the Dinner Table / Canada (Director: Carol Nguyen, Producers: Carol Nguyen, Aziz Zoromba) — Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.

Quilt Fever / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Olivia Loomis Merrion) — Every year, thousands of quilters descend upon Paducah, Kentucky for its annual quilt competition, doubling the town’s population. “The Academy Awards of quilting” is a weeklong spectacle in which quilters from all over the world vie for the coveted Best of Show award. Beyond the competition, the film weaves through stories of individual quilters to reveal deeper motivations behind the art.

EPISODIC

Cursed Films / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Jay Cheel, Producers: Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith, Laura Perlmutter, Brian Robertson, Jay Cheel) — Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series from Shudder exploring the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of The Omen, to the rumoured use of human skeletons on the set of Poltergeist, these stories are legendary amongst film fans and filmmakers alike. But where does the truth lie?

Motherland: Fort Salem / U.S. (Creator: Eliot Laurence) — Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution by cutting a deal with the government to fight for the country, Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from training to deployment, as they fight terrorist threats with supernatural tactics.

Tales from the Loop/ U.S., Canada (Creator/Writer: Nathaniel Halpern, Director: Mark Romanek, Executive Producers: Nathaniel Halpern, Matt Reeves, Mark Romanek, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Mattias Montero, Samanthan Taylor Pickett, Adam Berg and Simon Stålenhag) – Based on the acclaimed art of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the town and people who live above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. In this fantastical, mysterious town poignant human tales are told that bare universal emotional experiences while drawing on the intrigue of genre storytelling. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Paul Schneider, Daniel Zolghadri, Duncan Joiner, Jonathan Pryce.
He held on. The dolphin and all the rest of its pod turned and swam out to sea, and still he held on. This is it, he thought. Then he remembered that they were air-breathers too. It was going to be all right.


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Here are the films that will be viewable on Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/sxsw:


Mizuko (Water Child) / U.S. (Directors: Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane, Screenwriter: Kira Dane, Producer: Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute) — In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko (Water Child) is a partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

S/o to Kira & Katelyn & Gretta  ~  <3