Filmmaker Teal Greyhavens’s documentary Cinema is Everywhere explores just that very notion, that films and everything surrounding them, from the making to the exhibition, is a global phenomenon meaning different things to different people depending on their environment, culture and general context of their lives. In the most basic sense, it seems like an unspoken understanding; of course cinema is powerful and important, but it doesn’t hurt to explore the idea every once and a while, especially considering how easy it is to forget the power of cinema when you’re bitching about the latest “blockbuster” that disappointed you.
While trying to convey this power of cinema, both for good and bad, on a global scale, the documentary also focuses in on four main narratives. There’s Netra from Mumbai, trying to find work as an actor after years of modelling, and we follow her as she navigates some meeting and auditions. Then there’s a film crew of young filmmakers in Hong Kong, working on a short for the upcoming Hong Kong Film Festival. We also get a look at Tunisian documentary filmmaker Karim Souaki’s journey with his film Silence, as he has his world premiere at the Carthage Film Festival and then has to deal with the political interference from the Ministry of Culture. Finally, we follow Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton as they bring their “Cinema of Dreams” film festival experience first to Scotland, then to China and eventually wherever their semi-truck-turned-mobile-cinema can reach.
Personally, I found the section dealing with Cousins and Swinton’s film festival adventures the most interesting, but that’s because I’m someone who attends quite a few and found their approach extremely unique. From their first screenings in Nairn, you can tell that they took the idea of a film festival to mean something more along the lines of an experience, or even a show. The audience gets more than just a seat and a dark room, and in the case of the mobile cinema, they get a theater delivered to them. It’s refreshing to know that the words “film festival” can mean more than just what one might expect from the norm.
Overall, I think the utilization of the four co-existing narratives to be a great idea, because it gave not just different perspectives on cinema and life, but it also made sure it wasn’t just a film of “cinema is great, this is great, blah blah blah” testimonials. Those types of documentaries exist, and I’ve nothing against them, but I usually don’t learn anything new from them; if you appreciate film (and in this job, you damn well better), rah rah testimonial talking heads just becomes a case of preaching to the choir. I don’t need to be convinced, I want to see how others feel, and Cinema is Everywhere delivers there.
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