This has been an exciting week for digital cinema. First, the Tribeca Film Institute and Renew Media launched Reframe, a portal that helps users locate and purchase obscure or hard-to-find movie titles. As Agnes points out, the goal of Reframe is to “aggregate and make available content that now isn’t due to high cost of digitization.” Because digitization costs are so high, many distributors avoid converting films that appear unlikely to make a profit, and so this new initiative is a good way to provide filmmakers with an additional means of making money while taking on some of the challenges of preserving movies that might otherwise fade into obscurity.
Another cool aspect of the Reframe site is its orientation towards community-building. As Agnes (again) points out, one of the real strengths of the site is the collection of curated lists compiled by filmmakers, critics, and scholars. And I’d say that even if I wasn’t invited to contribute a list. My list, titled “Interrogating Documentary” looks at a number of films that test the limits of what counts as documentary (Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March, for example) or ostensibly fictional films that incorporate documentary elements (Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool). We were limited to films available on Amazon, so there were a couple of films that I liked that I couldn’t include here. But other curated lists worth checking out include Charles Warren’s “Creative Nonfiction” list, Agnes’s “Hybrid Documentary” list, and all of Pamela Cohn’s lists. This looks like a great resource for filmmakers, scholars, and fans alike. For more details on Reframe, this New York Times article is a good place to start.
The second resource, Moving Image Source, comes from the Museum of the Moving Image and offers a lot of cool features, including original articles by critics and scholars (headed up Dennis Lim, former film editor of The Village Voice), a calendar of major film festivals and events, and most importantly for my purposes, a guide to online research resources. The guide does a number of things well, allowing searches to distinguish between peer-reviewed and non-reviewed journals, to name one example. I haven’t had as much time to check out Moving Image Source, but it looks like a nice complement to the growing number of resources out there for learning about film online.