INDEPENDENCE DAY MAY be opening in over 2,000 theaters nationwide, but it can't completely dominate the film market. In fact, the five most rebellious indie exhibitors in our town--
U Film Society, Oak Street Cinema, Asian Media Access, Red Eye Cinema, and National Projects--will join forces on July 4 to present Multiplex, a free marathon screening at the Soap Factory gallery near St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis.
"On the Fourth of July," says the Multiplex press release, "we will stand united against the economies of scale which not only squeeze unique and fresh film ideas into a standardized digestible format but also reduce film venues to hollow bunkers, veritable popcorn mills ready to project whatever high cost/low concept industry vehicle shows up in the mail." As an alternative, from 4 p.m. to sundown, the Multiplex crew will unspool such anti-establishment works as Godard's Breathless, Fuller's Forty Guns and House of Bamboo, Cocteau's Blood of a Poet, and Ang Lee's Pushing Hands, in addition to an assortment of cartoons and newsreels.
As in the traditional multiplex, the various films will run simultaneously; although in this case, the spectator will be allowed to wander between screenings and soak up images at will. Multiplex's curator Matt Bakkom says the point is to illustrate the comparative freedom afforded by noncorporate film venues. "The multiple-projection approach here creates an environment in which anything can happen," Bakkom says. "One of the models for this is the carnival funhouse, in which each room has a different vibe. I think I'm deeply nostalgic for a time when cinema was vital, when it was an exciting physical process to be involved in. That era has largely disappeared with the trend for cinematic venues to be these small, sterile, impoverished spaces. And the exhibit is also an attempt to overcome the false conflation of film and video, which are as different as seeing a painting in a public museum versus seeing a reproduction of a painting in a book."
Besides celebrating the recent renaissance of local independent exhibition, Bakkom says another idea for Multiplex came from a collective desire among cineastes to preserve the "majestic" space of the Uptown Theatre, which was rumored to be in danger of reconstruction as a multiplex. "We want to emphasize the importance of those last few theatrical spaces like the Uptown that do justice to the scale of cinema," Bakkom says. He also points out that the new marketability of art films is, at best, a mixed blessing. "The so-called 'arthouse revolution' has involved incestuous business relationships between film distributors and exhibitor chains. Because of their power, these chains have been able to attract the films that previously would have supported the independent venues in town. And I don't see the chains giving anything back to the medium in terms of taking the risks that the indie venues used to take, and still do take, all the time." (Nelson)
The Soap Factory is located at 110 Fifth Ave. S.E., Mpls.; for more info call No Name Exhibitions at 623-9176, or Red Eye Collaboration at 870-0309.
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