Welcome to my Cinema History corner.
Hello friends, my name's Nina Di Salvo and I am an independent film programmer, content creator, multi-disciplinary artist, and bonafide film history geek. This blog space is going to serve as a casual source of documentation for film exhibition, distribution, and production centered virtual conferences, webinars, workshops, etc, I've been lucky enough to attend, entries about film history books that were note and conversation worthy, as well as reflections from domestic film festivals that I've been privileged enough to attend.
This first book I'd like to highlight during my transition from film production into film programming is Peter Bosma's "Film Programming: Curating for Cinemas, Festivals, and Archives." I read this short nonfiction back in 2020 when I was beginning to research entry points into the profession, sending out cold emails, gaining general meetings, etc. and before my first seasonal festival gig with the Bushwick Film Festival. This book was, and is, an excellent introduction into the business, considerations, and expectations to working in this role, and it's one I still keep on my shelf. Though rather manualistic, 'Curating for Cinemas, Festivals, and Archives' dives into the nitty gritty of programming considerations for each of these spaces, discussing the differences, common grounds, budgetary factors, and offers case studies as well - something you may be lacking as a connectionless individual who doesn't have that pool of peers to exchange stories with.
The book is organized into 8 chapters:
Cinephilia as a Curatorial Element
The Network of Intermediaries
Curating Film Theaters
Curating Film Festivals
Curating Film Archives
Conclusion: Final Words
As we have been a new chapter of film distribution for the past decade+ with the digital consumption of cinematic media, the conditions of the industry has changed. There has been an absolute surplus of material, with a multitude of sources, that many viewers are distracted by the limitless sources and result to not choosing anything at all. As a 'custodian of cinema culture', it is the role of the programmer/curator to have that curious, maximalist approach and consume meaningful content, and find a way to bridge the gaps in conversations, bringing in all of the relevant sources, to create a clear conversation and point of gaze with the viewer.
I find this to be a particularly paramount time to be working as a curator, and thus, my interest in the profession.
Presently, 5 big name companies dictate and dominate the peoples supply of culture, with this present monopolistic approach, many great films, and therefore POV's and conversations, are lost. Understanding "who decides which cultural expressions are to be seen and heard regularly, which of them are being safeguarded in acessible archives," (BIG issue in these digital times where, for example, the big mouse could delete a show off of their streaming platform to never been seen again, ever) "and which of them are surfacing in school textbooks, and ranked as generally accepting cultural heritage." I loved how academic this book was in its explanations and investigations, theres nothing pop culture about it with its conversations regarding access, cultural history, film production, film reception, curatorial strategy, and more.
If you're an aspiring or present administrator of culture, this book is for you. If you're a filmmaker frustrated with the fact that your films are not getting programmed/given a voice, this is for you. As someone deeply embedded in film culture, film/arthouse programming from the guest POV, and an independent filmmaker, a majority of this information was something I had already seen in real time, but, how the material was articulated, condensed, and discussed was very meaningful, which is why this is a book I keep close and open to a full re-read, or selective re-read.
Thank you so much for checking in, if this type of material interests you I would strongly suggest picking up a copy of Peter Bosma's "Film Programming: Curating for Cinemas, Festivals, and Archives" if you're enthusiastic about culture and the avenues in which this type of material is spread - whether a current or recent history.