Retrospective: Back to Classics

MEANING
The lights are off, people fall silent — except for faint whispering — and the screen attracts the audience with annoying pre-movie ads. The blank canvas is turning into a display — forcing us to take a breath: it is starting. Quite captivating, honestly. That's probably good enough to explain why some of us still enjoy watching a film at the theatre, not being satisfied with quiet and comfortable viewing at home.
by Maria Mamontova


10/09/2021
That's even better when we come to classics: watching Taxi Driver (1976) or La Dolce Vita (1960) at the cinema sounds like a dream to some movie enthusiasts. It is especially intriguing knowing the chances are little — the screenings are just infrequent, and seeing some old movies anytime soon is unlikely. For a true cinema lover, the benefits of watching classics on the big screen are pretty significant.

But that's how a viewer might see it. From the distributors' side, there are different reasons for creating such screenings. For one, showing old films is not quite profitable, so money is not the primary cause. The target audience is little; there is no great demand. So what is there in it for cinema executives? Is it a feeling of purpose as an art distributor? Inner satisfaction? Showing classics is one of the relatively new segments of the Russian cinema industry. Just a little while ago, this segment was quite small — though it's been growing bigger and bigger these past few years. Now it's found its audience since there are always at least a few people — young and old — willing to watch classics.
Pretty much everything depends on the viewer. Film distribution makes a living off advertising, ticket sales or sponsorship, and the first part — the major part in some cases — depends on the latter. Advertising companies do not just sign contracts with random cinemas — they care about the views, in other words — the number of tickets sold. Showing new popular films rather than classics or independent cinema is always more attractive in terms of commercials. In the case of independent cinema, contracts with advertising companies are not the solution of monetisation: once again, it is not popular, not for the mass public, so not quite profitable. This is where sponsorship comes in, but it simply cannot cover the expenses while bringing a solid income. As a result — cinemas that present film festivals or classics earn quite little from it.
If not for the money, it is for the sake of cinema that some distributors put out old movies. Some particular films deserve much more attention than they get from streaming services or Blu-ray disks. In terms of quality appreciation, nothing compares to seeing a good old film in a decent cinema. The truth is, films are intended to be seen on a big screen with a good audio system, and not everyone can afford such expenses — but cinemas can. To give "new" people a chance of viewing an old film, some distributors, the ones passionate about cinema, present retrospectives — festivals where they show works from one director, period of time or genre. The latter case is not yet very widespread in Russia — cinemas don't usually schedule film collections of films portraying the issue of women's rights or anti-racist movements. Although topic-based selections aren't common in Russian cinemas yet, we already have a few major film festivals, where they select films based on countries of origin, regions, or particular directors.

While independent cinema gains more and more recognition in the media, particularly in Russia, the industry keeps developing. Independent cinemas learn to survive without any help from the government; art exists without state support. It is actually quite possible that one day the Film Museum in Moscow will function properly — like similar museums of different countries — to educate people and show masterpieces of classical directors. Not anytime soon, though, so we are left to hope for the better.
 
Retrospective: Back to Classics
MEANING
The lights are off, people fall silent — except for faint whispering — and the screen attracts the audience with annoying pre-movie ads. The blank canvas is turning into a display — forcing us to take a breath: it is starting. Quite captivating, honestly. That's probably good enough to explain why some of us still enjoy watching a film at the theatre, not being satisfied with quiet and comfortable viewing at home.
by Maria Mamontova


10/09/2021
That's even better when we come to classics: watching Taxi Driver (1976) or La Dolce Vita (1960) at the cinema sounds like a dream to some movie enthusiasts. It is especially intriguing knowing the chances are little — the screenings are just infrequent, and seeing some old movies anytime soon is unlikely. For a true cinema lover, the benefits of watching classics on the big screen are pretty significant.
But that's how a viewer might see it. From the distributors' side, there are different reasons for creating such screenings. For one, showing old films is not quite profitable, so money is not the primary cause. The target audience is little; there is no great demand. So what is there in it for cinema executives? Is it a feeling of purpose as an art distributor? Inner satisfaction? Showing classics is one of the relatively new segments of the Russian cinema industry. Just a little while ago, this segment was quite small — though it's been growing bigger and bigger these past few years. Now it's found its audience since there are always at least a few people — young and old — willing to watch classics.
Pretty much everything depends on the viewer. Film distribution makes a living off advertising, ticket sales or sponsorship, and the first part — the major part in some cases — depends on the latter. Advertising companies do not just sign contracts with random cinemas — they care about the views, in other words — the number of tickets sold. Showing new popular films rather than classics or independent cinema is always more attractive in terms of commercials. In the case of independent cinema, contracts with advertising companies are not the solution of monetisation: once again, it is not popular, not for the mass public, so not quite profitable. This is where sponsorship comes in, but it simply cannot cover the expenses while bringing a solid income. As a result — cinemas that present film festivals or classics earn quite little from it.
If not for the money, it is for the sake of cinema that some distributors put out old movies. Some particular films deserve much more attention than they get from streaming services or Blu-ray disks. In terms of quality appreciation, nothing compares to seeing a good old film in a decent cinema. The truth is, films are intended to be seen on a big screen with a good audio system, and not everyone can afford such expenses — but cinemas can. To give "new" people a chance of viewing an old film, some distributors, the ones passionate about cinema, present retrospectives — festivals where they show works from one director, period of time or genre. The latter case is not yet very widespread in Russia — cinemas don't usually schedule film collections of films portraying the issue of women's rights or anti-racist movements. Although topic-based selections aren't common in Russian cinemas yet, we already have a few major film festivals, where they select films based on countries of origin, regions, or particular directors.
While independent cinema gains more and more recognition in the media, particularly in Russia, the industry keeps developing. Independent cinemas learn to survive without any help from the government; art exists without state support. It is actually quite possible that one day the Film Museum in Moscow will function properly — like similar museums of different countries — to educate people and show masterpieces of classical directors. Not anytime soon, though, so we are left to hope for the better.
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