It’s impossible to begin without recognizing the state of suspended animation—and worse—caused by the pandemic. New film releases and productions large and small have been halted and postponed. Theaters are closed, and festivals up in the air, though some organizations (including Film at Lincoln Center, our publisher) are offering movies to stream, both recent releases and retrospective selections. Workers are out of jobs, leading to efforts like the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund and the Art-House America Campaign, while the CARES stimulus act offers special funding for small businesses on condition of retaining employees. Grave uncertainties and decisions remain, with different stakes for massive studios and regional art-houses without cash flow, and for filmmakers and crew at all levels. As with so many things, much will depend on that everlasting push-and-pull between moviegoers and industry—on people voting with their feet (or their fingers) for the film world they would like to see.
REMAINS TO BE SEEN
Completed movies do continue to be acquired for future release, such as Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrowby Neon, Michael Almereyda’s Tesla by IFC Films, and Mohammad Rasoulof’s There Is No Evilby Kino Lorber. Likewise, movies await in varying stages of postproduction that do not involve physical proximity—check out our Film Comment Podcast at Home episode with Nadav Lapid discussing the experience of editing his next feature. Those in earlier phases—Claire Denis was last reported casting her next feature in Los Angeles—may take more time. Ordinarily, Film Commentwould be writing about the latest cinema from Cannes and elsewhere, but for now the anticipation must continue for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria with Tilda Swinton, or Leos Carax’s Annette with Adam Driver, and for films and filmmakers we all have yet to learn about.
Call us sentimental, but we find some uplift in the generous filmmakers who have been sharing their work online. And inspiration comes from the unstoppable likes of Frederick Wiseman (who’s editing his 43rd feature documentary, about Boston City Hall) and Jean-Luc Godard (who, while holding court on Instagram Live, mentioned that his next feature will “imagine that the director of the Bastille Opera is the Queen of Sheba”).