Cannes to come
Closing the festival with Modern Times is just one sign. The Animatrix DVD, a collection of several animated short films written by the Wachowski brothers giving the back story of The Matrix, had its invitation-only premiere in the Market last week. In the "restored films" retrospective there are digital screenings of Mildred Pierce (already on DVD in North America), The Adventures Of Robin Hood and Yankee Doodle Dandy, both due shortly on disc from Warner Home Video.The huge Fellini retrospective, which led to the festival poster reading "Viva Il Cinema," which is defiantly not French, is tied to the gradual European release of the Fellini catalogue on the shiny discs (much as the Berlin festival's Ozu retrospective earlier this year was tied to an attempt to market the Japanese auteur's catalogue to Western DVD).
The Espace DVD in the Market is one of the liveliest spots in that vast rabbit warren/dungeon. And it's twice as large as it was last year. People aren't talking about ancillary markets (i.e., video) as ancillary markets any more. One of the odder things I hear, on the movie newsgroups and actually in line for movies, is "I don't think I'll see it theatrical - I'll just wait for the DVD and buy it."
Not rent - buy. Which, when it comes down to it, is cheaper than two tickets on Friday night plus snacks and parking.
After all, some Europeans think there's a market for a two-DVD edition of the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There; the second disc contains the colour version. (Really, it was shot in colour. And, yes, I'm tempted). In North America some people want a four-disc edition of Pearl Harbor.
I've been arguing for a couple of years now that events like Cannes are essentially remnants of old-technology thinking. The idea that you have to pick up your films, put them in cans and travel around the world to show them to buyers is ingrained in us like migratory routes in swallows and sandhill cranes.
It's also wicked expensive. The projector throw in the Grande Salle Lumière is so far and requires so much light that a print is essentially ruined by the end of its four or five screenings.
How many years are we from a fully digital film festival? Not that I approve of digital over celluloid. Not yet, anyway.