As we find ourselves in the latter half of 2014, studios are shipping out their last five-month supply of new release film reels. “Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection,” a 15-minute documentary short directed by Jason Gwynn and Jay Sheldon, lets us examine exactly what it is we’re losing, through the eyes of two theater projectionists during their last days on the job.
If you fall on the sentimental side of the film/digital divide, you might have a soft spot for this behind-the-scenes look at the people who have physically handled film and who appreciate that it must be treated tenderly, its display being more art than science. While the transition to digital has been explored from the filmmaker standpoint in films like Keanu Reeves’ “Side by Side,” the change in the day-to-day life of an underappreciated projectionist is largely unknown and decidedly more tragic. The theater featured in the film will not survive the year, with the cost to transition one screen being $70,000.
The saddest aspect is that these people who are truly skilled professionals will now be entirely obsolete. Even if you won’t miss the “clack clack clack” at the theater, this short will leave you feeling melancholy about the closing of a chapter. [35MM]