Friday, August 31, 2012

'Side by Side': Is World Big Enough for Digital and Film?

“IT’S exciting because it’s a reinvention of a new medium,” director Martin Scorsese says. ”If the photo chemical process has worked its way through our culture, we’re on to another level.

This is the reply of the Oscar-winning director of “Hugo” and other notable films to a question by Keanu Reeves about film and digital in “Side by Side.” The film opens today in New York City after screening in Los Angeles and Boston and will be rolling out in select cities across the country over the next couple of months.

Directed and written by Chris Kenneally, “Side by Side” in tracking the evolution of cinema asks whether digital should replace film for making movies or whether they can they co-exist. Host and producer KR puts these questions to a who’s who of directors. Responses are heartfelt, thoughtful, blunt and redolent of nostalgia. (See trailer above).

“You can’t shoot 3D on film,” James Cameron (“Avatar”) says emphatically. “So, film has been dead in my heart for 10 years.

Counters another, “I hate 3D. I put on those glasses and I get sick to my stomach. The whole 3D phenomenon, it’s a marketing scheme isn’t it?

“Side by Side” addresses a hot-button issue that is revolutionizing industries in real time. Can both formats exist – side by side – in a climate where audiences have become accustomed to unprecedented picture clarity?

More important, however, is that digital has democratized moviemaking. Just about anyone with access to digital equipment can make a film – even on a phone. But what of the adverse effects on the economy if movies are only made digitally? Is that the sound of jobs drying up?

The debate almost parrots what is happening in print journalism. The advent of digital will continue to challenge the status quo and traditions of any number of industries; consider what’s happening in music.

CK will do Q&As after the New York screenings of “Side by Side” at both Quad Cinema ( and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. (

One hopes that both digital and film can co-exist – even if it is a fragile one like with newspapers/periodicals and online, for it would seem that the consequences of wholly abandoning film for digital would be enormous. Yet there are those who – if not exactly calling for the death of film – have walked away from it into the warm embrace of digital.

“I really felt I should call film on the phone and say I met someone,” says Steven Soderbergh (“The Hunger Games”).

"Side by Side" is available on VOD all over the United States and on VOD in Canada exclusively through Rogers Anyplace TV ( to learn more about "Side by Side."

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