2011 marks my twelfth anniversary as the Film Curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh, North Carolina. When I started this job, I discovered things had changed since I had last programmed films as Film Society Chairman at the University of Cincinnati from 1973-1975. In the Olden Days, you could make up a wish list of films and there were many companies that would rent them to you. Since the advent of home video formats (DVD and now, Blue Ray and on demand) cable movie networks, Netflix, TiVo, DVR and so on, most of those companies are out of business, and the remaining ones struggle in a changing market. Those that still exist may be renting the exact same raggedy prints I showed years ago. Just because I want to show a film doesn't mean that I can locate a print. Audiences, comfortably at home with their Big TVs and Netflix membership need a pressing reason to leave the house and go out to see a film they know they can obtain elsewhere, may have seen once long ago, or one of which they have never heard.
Fortunately, since I began my tenure at the NCMA in 1999, several companies have devoted themselves to reissuing new 35mm prints of some classic films, and archives have discovered that new prints are in demand by repertory film programs across the country. Choosing carefully, it's possible to program a challenging and enjoyable film series.
Film notes can make a huge difference, and I've enjoyed writing and giving introductory talks at the NCMA. There has been a lot of fascinating film writing, augmenting the early, nostalgia-oriented movie books. Scholarly research, bringing in all aspects of popular culture and entertainment history, feminist and queer studies have all brought new points of view to movie writing. Academic texts are often impenetrable to the average reader, which is a shame, because sometimes there are great insights. My talks attempt to bridge both academic and more popular writing styles, although the older essays on the site are not as well footnoted as more recent ones. But, I intend to give credit where it is due.
A decade ago, there was relatively little on the Web about films that pre-dated the Web, although this, too, continues to evolve. But moviediva was originally a response to that need.
I believe there is nothing to compare to seeing a film with an audience in a theater, shown on the big screen. Or, as Francois Truffaut said, "The most beautiful thing I have ever seen in a movie theater is to go down to the front and turn around, and look at all the uplifted faces, the light from the screen reflected upon them."