In 1995, cinema celebrated a distinctly ambivalent centenary, with most activity occurring at the intersection of Europe’s cinematheques, universities, and state-funded production centers. The collective commemoration yielded renewed scholarship on early cinema and even a few productions, such as the omnibus Lumière et compagnie and the BFI-commissioned ‘Century of Cinema’ documentary series. (Stateside, we made due with Chuck Workman’s nine-minute clip show ‘100 Years at the Movies,’ endlessly replayed on Turner Classic Movies and elsewhere.) Here’s to the next century!
The bureaucratic anniversary stirred a few notes of dissent, notably Susan Sontag’s widely-published think piece about the decline of film culture. Almost entirely absent from these discussions, though, was the possibility that cinema would radically transform itself over the next fifteen years. Continue reading