The End Of An Era (Seriously)

Having worked as a film programmer in recent years, New Yorker Films was the staple distributor for the most acclaimed foreign films, namely the newest Jia Zhang-ke, Philippe Garrel, or Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul. Their decades long devotion to single filmmakers and film movements continues to awe. Their film library holds an immaculate treasure trove, from Straub/Huillet to Chantal Akerman.

So, the news today that New Yorker was ending its forty-four year run as this country's most austere film distributor marks this as a turning point in film viewing as we know it. Who will pick up the slack, after the closures of Warner Independent, Red Envelope, Paramount Vantage, and Tartan Films, all just last year? One wonders if this is a product of our deepening recession or part of the ongoing problems distributors face, which includes global piracy, instant access to once difficult and esoteric material, sluggish advertising, and uncooperative, demanding theatrical outlets.

While the theatrical system sorts itself out, it's worth thinking about what we're losing in the process: well curated, film-loving distributors, who need to take chances to survive. In my eyes, New Yorker released the best film of 2008; who will release this year's best film?

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