Let's hear it for the movies

Dateline: Wed 25 Feb 2009

Christopher Lloyd, former film critic/assistant arts and entertainment editor and writer for the Indianapolis Star, has news, posted today on his blog Captain Critic:

"Today, a group of six Hoosier film critics is announcing the formation of the Indianapolis Film Journalists Association. The IFJA is made up of writers, broadcasters and bloggers whose mission is the promotion of quality film to Indiana film-goers.

"For now, it's a boys' club with all male members, but we hope to add some women and other journalists down the line.

"Why now? Simply put, the number of screenings available to us has diminished significantly over the last couple of years, and has reached the point where we're struggling to find movies to write about because they aren't being shown to us. For example, we had exactly zero advance screenings in Indianapolis -- the 12th largest city in the U.S. -- over the last couple of weeks.

"This is ironic, since it arrives just as the breadth of the discussion we're creating about movies is growing -- Lou Harry with his A and E blog at IBJ.com, myself here at CaptainCritic and Matthew Socey's 'Film Soceyology' show at WFYI HD being the three newest additions to the scene.

"We figured that using our collective muscle to lobby for more screenings is the way to go. Once we had that thought, the next logical step was to make it official and give ourselves a name.

"Starting at the end of 2009, we plan to give out annual awards to the top films, just like other regional film critic groups do.

"Here are the founding members of IFJA, listed alphabetically:

Bob Bloom, Lafayette Journal and Courier

Lou Harry, Indianapolis Business Journal

Ed Johnson-Ott, NUVO

Christopher Lloyd, freelance critic/blogger

Joe Shearer, Indy.com

Matthew Socey, WFYI, Host of "Film Soceyology"

Sounds like fun, and an impressive lineup of verbal voices, except that this opens a whole can-of-worms discussion on the state of arts coverage in Indianapolis and beyond. But even before we go there, we have to take into consideration the financial shortfalls faced by various arts organizations, from the Writers' Center to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. There's a lot of hurt out there...

So which came first -- the media's abandonment of movies/film in terms of local reviews/patronage, or the movie industry's abandonment of mainstream media re: advertising and screenings? Or is this all another example of our depressed economy, since bloggers are also affected?

An anecdotal observation: prior to the Oscars, Keystone Arts Cinema did a brisk business. Movies remain a mainstay of American culture, including Indianapolis. Let's get behind the effort to promote screenings locally and read reviews. Be part of a community that refuses to bowl alone.

Also, on a side note: I am heartened to see Indy.com take part in this effort. Lloyd once reviewed movies for the Star, and it's good to see Joe Shearer of the Gannett Indy.com operation get a nod and choose to be included.

For the link to Lloyd's blog, see the listings off to the right...

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