Film to Digital: Lecture Series

As much as cinema is impelled and defined by the technology that gives it life, we spectators do not share the same inextricable relationship: cinema for the film-watcher is not only what it must be now and could become tomorrow, but also everything it has been in the past.

Technology of both the production and exhibition of cinema has been in furious transition these past few years, as digital cinema is installed as an analogue for film photography and exhibition. And yet the ability to create a similar final image does not necessarily make for two identical media—it is hard to imagine scratch-films, for instance, conceived in an all-digital world, just as certain flights of digital animation could hardly have existed on film alone.

And so the question arises whether there might be more at stake in the digital revolution than just sentimentality for a medium in decline: does the grafting of film and digital create a more economical, equivalent cinema? Or is it possible that the two media maintain distinctions, and that unique properties of film cinema will wither while those of digital video remain stunted in “cinematic” duty?

While our reception of films, as spectators, is entirely dependent upon the industry that conveys them to us, our perception and understanding in the here-and-now remains independent of the march of economy. And so even as the industry says “film becomes digital,” we take the event of this transition to ask what defines each medium, free from their intertwined fate, and if their “equivalence” might obscure forms more proper to each. From filmmakers to exhibitors, technicians to archivists, the question has many implications: Why film, and why digital?

With this speaker series, a number of voices from diverse locations in the film industry will speak to their relationship with the two media, how they understand and use each one, and what it all might mean to us as a movie audience.