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Art House Convergence Sets Up Petition For Independent Exhibitors to Play ‘The Interview’

Art House Convergence Sets Up Petition For Independent Exhibitors to Play 'The Interview'

Sony has been in the crosshairs of nearly everyone this past week in the wake of the company’s decision to cancel its Christmas release plan for the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview” after a series of devastating hacking efforts and threats to public safety attributed to North Korea. Even the President admonished that decision on Friday, telling Sony, “Do not get into a pattern where you’re intimated by these criminal attacks.” But at least one organization has showed support: Art House Convergence, which runs its annual exhibitors conference each January before Sundance.

Over the weekend, Art House Convergence director Russ Collins reached out to the company in an open letter published on the organization’s website offering to screen “The Interview” at no charge to the studio as a one-day special. “We do this to express the value and power of freedom and to support you, our artistic and business colleagues, during a time of great vexation,” wrote Collins, who’s also the CEO of Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater.

Read Collins’ full letter below:

Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO Sony Entertainment, Inc.
Amy Pascal, Co-Chair Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

Dear Mr. Lynton and Ms. Pascal,

Your Art House motion picture colleagues wish to support you and your company at this difficult time. We empathize with the ruthless attack your company suffered and we want to help in our small but powerful way.

The enormity of the attack your company has suffered and the difficulty of the decisions you have been forced to make in recent days are nearly unimaginable; similarly is the monumental nature of the business disruption your company has endured in recent weeks. Your life, and possibly your judgment, has been disrupted beyond comprehension. The financial bottom line impact will be, frankly, unfathomable for an independent Art House to comprehend. However, in life and art, values are the ultimate “bottom line” and striving for freedom and goodness are the sometimes conflicting, but paramount values of enlightened societies.

We understand that “The Interview” is on one level “just a movie,” meaning, in terms of human history, a probably facile entertainment and business investment. But circumstance has propelled this work into a nexus of values, both societal and artistic. It is also, as an artistic and national community, an opportunity to respond clearly to the behavior of an international bully opposed, by word and deed, to the value of freedom.

We, the independent Art House community, will gladly exhibit “The Interview” as a special, one-day showing without pecuniary expectation, or as a regular part of our cinema programming. We do this to express the value and power of freedom and to support you, our artistic and business colleagues, during a time of great vexation.

Best wishes to you and all your Sony Entertainment colleagues as you endeavor to restore normalcy (if that is possible in show-business!) to your work-life and your business.

Most Sincerely — Russ Collins, Director, Art House Convergence

READ MORE: How Would the Indie Film Community Handle ‘The Interview’ Fiasco?

UPDATE: Today, the organization set up a petition for independent exhibitors to pledge their support of Sony for a theatrical release of the film. The petition, which can be found at HERE, reads as follows:

We, the independent art house community, specifically the theaters below, express our support for Sony Pictures and all of its employees worldwide in this difficult time. We want to share our encouragement and appreciation for Sony and the great contributions it has made to the film industry, especially to our sector of art houses and independent cinemas.
 
On December 16th, the Terrorist Organization, “The Guardians of Peace,” escalated their threats by promising terrorist attacks against cinemas showing THE INTERVIEW.  “The world will be full of fear,” their message read, “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
 
With this threat, the issue became larger than any film, larger than Sony and larger than the entertainment industry: societal and artistic values are in peril. We are at an important crossroads with an opportunity to reaffirm clearly our dedication to the value of freedom and the absolute necessity to keep our film industry free of restriction, censorship and violent intimidation. We implore our fellow exhibitors and our nation of moviegoers to stand up in recognition that freedom of speech and artistic expression are vital not only to the entertainment industry but for all art and commerce worldwide. 

We stand in solidarity with Sony and offer our support to them in defense of artistic integrity and personal freedoms; freedoms which represent our nation’s great ability to effect change and embrace diversity of opinion.

We understand there are risks involved in screening THE INTERVIEW.  We will communicate these risks as clearly as we can to our employees and customers and allow them to make their own decisions, as is the right of every American. Understanding those risks, the undersigned, independent cinema owners and operators of America under the banner of the Art House Convergence, do hereby agree to support Sony and to support theatrical engagements of THE INTERVIEW should Sony, at its sole discretion, decide to release it to theaters.

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