Are you ready for #OccupyCinema?
Here’s the backstory: Late last year, London-based filmmaker Tobias Morgan organized Cine Foundation International, an NGO that “produces films, coordinates video and broadcast projects, and takes direct actions in the protection and promotion of humanitarian causes, especially surrounding the censorship or imprisonment of film artists.”
Morgan also founded and produced MUBI’s film production and VOD site, the MUBI Garage. Made up of a collective of filmmakers and film professionals, including Hungarian director Béla Tarr, the CFI spent its first year advocating for imprisoned Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammed Rasoulof.
Now, following in the steps of the Wall Street protesters, it has set its sights on “occupying cinema.” From the CFI website:
#OccupyCinema involves the coordination and practical organization of public space projections onto buildings or other public surfaces — broadcasting films, video documents or live feeds, with the intention of decentralising traditional broadcast monopolies and information power structures where these interfere with freedom of speech or otherwise compel human beings to surrender to the agendas of ethically bankrupt regimes.
And what does that look like, you may ask?
Beginning November 1, #OccupyCinema will launch public displays of films in five places, listed to indieWIRE as New York City, Dallas, Kansas, London and Paris. Displays will happen again on November 5 and 11. From there, according to Morgan, the CFI “will begin a sustained, decentralised campaign of projections throughout November worldwide.”
“We are organizing actions in Moscow and Hungary now,” he said. “We are also talking to contacts in Beijing.”
A post on the film website characterizes the planned film projections as mostly visual, without sound and Situationist; the CFI cites the the conceptual political artists that played a pivotal role in the May ’68 protests as an inspiration.
Here’s some CFI examples of potential projections: “a snake crawling down the side of a bank, or barbed wire throttling a corporate billboard, or keywords that create a visual tension.” The post continues, “Equally though it can be used to show actual footage of human rights protest, or documentary evidence of an action.”
Morgan describes the #OccupyCinema efforts as “an evolving form… open-source” and notes that “the meaning (and effectiveness) of the projections will not be determined only by the ideas within [the films], but by the reciprocity between those films and the society that surrounds them.”
In December, the CFI will address specific situations of media censorship across the world by acting against media censorship in Eastern Europe and facilitating a series of protests around the one-year anniversary of the arrests of Panahi and Rasoulof.
The organization claims it will extend these campaigns into traveling workshops by January, “developing ground-level cultures around new waves in contemporary filmmaking.” CFI board member Béla Tarr also will launch a 35mm film school in January, with members in Europe, Asia, and the Americas teaching people across the world about digital filmmaking and projection, with the intention of spreading filmmaking equipment and know-how to “humanitarian activist groups and marginalised peoples across the world.”