Yesterday I was invited to the premiere of Keanu Reeves and Chris Kenneally’s documentary “Side by side” at MoMA. Beyond the star-appeal of an amazing roster of artists and celebrities appearing on the film, and its obvious educational value (every film lover should go and see it, and see “the real person behind the myth” in many cases), I really liked the after-movie talk with Chris and Keanu. They not only love film, and did an excellent job showing a “balanced” view of the debate between celluloid vs. digital, but did venture into three other areas that I found fascinating:

  • The first one was the archiving and preservation of film. While an interesting debate by itself, it is not as important as it seemed to them, since, as I see it, technology will catch up and surpass the needs and expectations in a matter of very few years. Although a lot could be said about culture, preservation, archiving, formats, etc. Which leads us to…
  • The second one: it was a very brief moment, when upon the comment “somebody has to be the taste maker” by one of the producers being interviewed, Keanu, as interviewer said “wow”. He did not make many comments afterwards, but he repeated “wow” and “it leaves you thinking” and “really??”. And that “industry” position of gate-keepers and the surprise it causes among artist, intellectuals and general public, it worth a very lengthy debate.
  • The third one was only hinted at, but it has a major significance: rather than nostalgic celluloid die-hards versus digital film visionaries (one can only admire George Lucas’ determination), it is the new technology, early adopters, explorers of new ways, versus the scared, controlling, and anachronic status quo.

And one thing that I wish they considered, and did not have time to propose: free all that “extra” material (they interviewed 140 people, and only show 70 in the fim), let people see it, download it, commment it, tag it, organize it, transcribe it… it is very valuable and it would not diminish your return on investment. If anything, as we all know, it would increase promotion and awareness, which it means higher revenues… But then again, you would do it for the love of film, wouldn’t you?