These are two of the questions addressed by co-producer/interviewer Keanu Reeves in the thoughtful, thought-provoking “Side by Side,” a documentary film that asks the sort of questions most major film studios don’t want asked or answered.
Photo-chemical film is going the way of the horse and buggy, and some people interviewed by Reeves are all right with it to some degree – George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, James Cameron and Anthony Dod Mantle, who appear in the film, among them.
Others mourn the loss of a perhaps irreplaceable and almost alchemical-aspect of the art form known as the cinema. Light passing through film and projected upon a screen is not something that has been and may ever be replicated by a camera or a projector that has as its root a digital chip.
Most theater chains have converted to digital projectors and many more movies are being shot on digital cameras. Some of the holdouts, Christopher Nolan, the cinematographers Wally Pfister and Vittorio Storaro among them, see the writing on the wall. In fact, Nolan (“The Dark Knight Rises”), Pfister (“Moneyball” and most of Nolan’s films) and the legendary Storaro (“Apocalypse Now”) admit they will probably soon switch to the new technology.
In the late 1990s, spurred on by Denmark’s Dogme 95 movement, indie filmmakers started shooting their movies on the much less expensive digital cameras. This created a huge logjam of indie films that probably would never have been made. Representing those are Lena Dunham and Greta Gerwig.
Featuring interviews with such luminaries as Lars von Trier, Danny Boyle, Richard Linklater, the iconic sound editor Walter Murch and Andy and Lana Wachowski, along with illuminating clips of classic films shot on film and more recent digitally shot movies, “Side by Side,” which was directed by Christopher Kenneally, is a genuine eye-opener and required viewing for anyone interested in film’s history and its future. ‘Side by Side’
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Narrator: Keanu Reeves
Director: Christopher Kenneally
Running time: 1:39
Rating: Not rated