Documentary Examines Hollywood’s Transition from Film to Digital

Keanu Reeves and Martin Scorsese ‘Side by Side’

Review by Seth Rogovoy

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – While it may be lost on the average or casual moviegoer, there has been a revolution in the film industry over the last decade or two in terms of how movies are made, shown, and distributed. Just as in other art forms and modes of business and communication, the digital revolution is upending the way film artists work, from directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, to how films are screened and shown in local theaters and in private homes.

While the technical aspects of this revolution – really an evolution – are probably only of minor interest to most, anyone who cares about movies and who wants to appreciate why they look, sound and feel the way they do will want to see Side by Side, a new documentary written and produced by actor Keanu Reeves, featuring in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters, such as James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, and screening at Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema on September 21-24, 2012.

The film, which premiered to great acclaim at the Berlin Film Festival and also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012, does a great job of providing the context – cinematography 101, if you will – for understanding the difference between movies made and shown on celluloid film and those captured and screened with digital equipment, as is increasingly the case.

The documentary investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation, and shows what artists and filmmakers have been able to accomplish with both film and digital, and how their needs and innovations have helped push filmmaking in new directions. Interviews with directors, cinematographers, colorists, scientists, engineers and artists reveal their experiences and feelings about working with film and digital, where we are now, how we got here and what the future may bring.

The documentary eschews any strong point of view, pro- or con-, for or against, regarding the digital revolution that seems ultimately likely to triumph over celluloid. Perhaps surprisingly, creative geniuses who clearly love and embrace movie tradition including Martin Scorsese and David Lynch are not ardent opponents of digital, whereas seemingly contemporary-minded filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and David Fincher bemoan certain aspects of moviemaking that are lost with the transition from film to digital.

The film runs at Little Cinema on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, September 21 – 24, 2012, at 7 p.m.

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