Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oscar Foreign Movies and Mergers

Congrats to the Oscar nominees and some more diversity this yr...BUT...when I was a teenager I could usually see 3 or 4 of the foreign film nominees a year. They weren't super wide-released but I could find them at mid-sized venues and they would occasionally pop up for a weekend at an AMC.

I remember watching "Y Tu Mama Tambien," "Amores Perros," and "The Lives of Others" in packed major theaters filled with people doing some 'grown folks" movie watching (aka no 'crying babies" or "gossiping teens," hire a babysitter and let's go see something with subtitles). Even back in 2007 -when I was living between Miami and Albuquerque for a year- I could find a quite a few foreign movies in the local spots b/c a cinephile angel somewhere along the lines in acquisition and distribution thought 'yeah, the yokels in ABQ should see this weird ass movie.' And we all know that Miami and ABQ are not NYC or LA in terms of indie and foreign movies.

This year and the past several, I'm lucky if I get to even catch one or two of the foreign movies. It feels like US distributors just aren't that interested in finding the next  "City of God" or "Central Station" or "Goodbye Lenin" which SUCKS because these were movies that transformed my understanding of not only cinema but the world. And it was kind of special to see these films in packed houses with other Americans (as oppose to netflixing it at home) because the public screenings confirmed our suspicions that there were millions of us out there in smaller cities who would go out of their way to try something new if it was just on the menu.

We aren't as stupid and close-minded and provincial as our media overlords would have you believe. Indie media matters! And the quiet death of indie movies, movie distributors, radio, and print has been one of the saddest things that has happened within the short span of my adulthood. Yes, even in the age of Trump I still believe that we are not as narrow-minded as our options, and the dumbing down of America is happening from the top-down, not the bottom-up. The merger of 90% of our media into a handful of companies has been devastating for independent artists, thinkers, politicians, and citizens. Foreign movies are just another canary in the mine of monster mergers and mega-conglomerates. 

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