Small Cinemas: How They Thrive and Why They Matter
Mediascape (UCLA's Journal of Cinema and Media Studies)
I have been working for some time now on developing an approach to cinema that would begin to recognize the significance of scale. The co-edited volume titled Purity and Provocation was a first step in this direction, and Small Nation, Global Cinema an attempt to take the project one step further.1 The Cinema of Small Nations, co-edited with Duncan Petrie, was designed, through data assembled by a whole team of scholars (including such key figures as Dina Iordanova and Martin McLoone), to make possible a comparative analysis of small cinemas.2 In the two interview books, Danish Directors and Danish Directors 2, the practitioner’s interview is used as a means of arriving at an understanding of the challenges that filmmakers face as small-nation film professionals, and as a way of teasing out the strengths that are also potentially part of the ecology of small cinemas.3
There are many fellow travelers at this point, and it’s almost beginning to make sense to talk of “small cinema studies.” Cinema at the Periphery,4 edited by Dina Iordanova, David Martin-Jones, and Belén Vidal, comes to mind, but so does the conference “European Landscapes: Small Cinemas at the Time of Transition” (June 2010), organized by Janina Falkowska and her colleagues at the University of Western Ontario. I’m very grateful to Mediascape and META’s Nilofar Naraghi and Heather Collette-VanDeraa for giving me an opportunity to try to pull my own thoughts about small cinemas together, and to articulate them in a succinct way. I’d like to do a number of things in this brief intervention. I’d like to try to clarify what I see a small cinemas’ approach as foregrounding, and why I see such an approach as worthwhile. I’m also interested in spelling out what I see as the conditions that need to be met if a small cinema is to thrive. I would like to make a case for seeing small cinemas as a source of inspiring models of cinematic practice. Finally, I’m interested in suggesting that these models warrant affirmation, and that it makes sense to think of them as having relevance, not just for other small cinemas, but for film more generally.
Hjort, M. (2011). Small Cinemas: How They Thrive and Why They Matter. Mediascape, Winter 11. Retrieved from http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Winter2011_SmallCinemas.html