Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Something keeps rearing it’s ugly head when it comes to Vancouver limited theatrical releases and, as a film fan, it’s really hard to keep cool about it. During my last few years doing film reviews in a more professional capacity, I’ve noticed that so many of the smaller indie film and foreign releases get pushed out of the way to allow for multiple screens in other theatres. This problem was exacerbated when the Fifth Avenue theatre renovated into being a VIP Cineplex, leaving almost all of the fringe cinema in the dust.

Did a wide audience get to see the beautiful and Oscar-nominated Turkish drama Mustang three years ago? No, it had its release pushed into oblivion before the Rio Theatre picked it up for a couple of nights. How about Land Of Mine, another Academy Award nominee that wasn’t even able to get a one night helping hand. These are just a couple of examples but the problem seems to be snowballing. As a critic, these films are pre-screened for us in some fashion, which makes the whole process frustrating when our coverage become moot.

This all might come off as pretentious bitching but everyone has a certain value of their time and energy, for a lot of people being their number one issue, and when you give your morning or evening to a film that has its relevance to you subscribing audience taken away it gets to a tedious point. On some films, this goes deeper, especially if it’s a film we feel passionately about and wish to give it any sort of word of mouth boost to get it out to the like-minded reader or listener. It makes it all that much more frustrating when a public relations rep has to message you three days before an intended release date to tell you there’s a future date for it that may or may not exist.

The trigger to my post is three films basically sitting in celluloid limbo, waiting to get the mass public’s eyes on it. First is the new documentary from the filmmakers behind Blackfish, rescheduled to next Friday with limited guarantee of that. Then there’s the Lizzie Borden film which was supposed to hit on Friday but has been pulled with no reschedule date. Thirdly, and this one bothers me the most, Skate Kitchen, a brilliant teen drama from The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle was slated for a mid-August release was shuffled through three different other dates before it fell into radio silence, meaning this will never see the big screen as intended.

Is this the more public death of small cinema and exploring other countries films in a bigger format? Are the movies that aren’t as mainstream with the push of big studios going to be those films we discover later in a Walmart bin? Even worse, is this new system robbing creative minds that inspiration when they discover a film as I did? I know that the last one made me sound like an old man but it feels like the screen is losing its glow due to the money over quality dulling and I’m holding fast to my memories.

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