As the Arthouse Convergence came to a close on Thursday not far from Park City, UT, Michael Moore took the podium for more than an hour for an off the record keynote speech. The address concluded with the presentation of a declaration, blown up on a large poster board, that Moore urged each of the 200 attendees to sign. The declaration, in support of Art House Cinema, follows:
Michael Moore’s Homestead Declaration
• The Cinema is our great American art form — and nurturing the art of the motion picture should be a prime cultural priority of our nation. We expect the Hollywood system and our government (a government of, by and for the people) to nurture and sustain filmmakers and the art of filmmaking, and to promote public understanding and appreciation of the art and craft of cinema. We need to encourage filmmaking that challenges, ignites, excites, questions and wondrously entertains. We reject the notion of mediocrity and cookie-cutter filmmaking and we won’t show them in our theaters.
• Monopolies and restraint of trade are killing the Art Houses. We demand that our State Attorney Generals and our US Attorney General and the Justice Department enforce the laws of this land to prevent the restraint as it affects the exhibition of motion pictures.
• Participating Art House Convergence theaters will not let great films go undistributed. We will work cooperatively to play great films that are not reaching audiences through traditional distribution outlets.
• The public grows less and less aware of what a good movie is, and has little or no awareness of foreign films, documentaries or American independent films. We the Art Houses of America will put together a curriculum for film literacy. We will ask our local schools to teach film literacy and we will open our theaters to them — that is our commitment as Art Houses.
• Every community deserves to have an Art House. Currently operating Art Houses will adopt a town and help them create their own Art House, save an Art House that is about to go under, or help to re-open an Art House that has closed.
• Financially, operating an Art House is barely sustainable. We will help provide community-based, mission-driven Art House theaters tools to survive. These tools will include: 1) teaching best practices for operating a community Art House; 2) providing education about operating local Art Houses as effective institutions partially supported by philanthropic and volunteer resources; 3) finding a collective way to negotiate favorable prices for equipment and concession supplies; 4) confronting the greed-based commercial distribution system of Hollywood as a unified front; and 5) considering new business models for operating Art Houses, such as nonprofits and worker-owned and run cooperatives.
• Movies are meant to be seen in movie theaters — not on TV, not in the back seat of a mini van and not on a cell phone. A movie is a film projected in the dark on a big screen in a theater filled with strangers and an “Everyone Welcome!” sign on the door. Filmmakers should be consulted on how their art is exhibited in theaters and should have a hand in how they are designed. Filmmakers need to visit Art Houses across the country. Art Houses and the Directors Guild of America need to establish a partnership that will take down the wall created by the Hollywood system and encourage personal contact between filmmakers and Art House audiences, because it is in filmmakers’ self interest that Art Houses not just survive, but thrive.
• We as Art House people love the movies. We will do everything in our power to see cinema thrive and grow in the 21st century. We will work every day to ensure that Art House cinema is exhibited in movie theaters with high quality projected images on BIG screens, with clear, multi-channel sound, in dark rooms with comfortable seats, full of passionate movie-loving customers.
iphone photos by eugene hernandez