Filming for the future

From social networking to cyber sex, this week’s Print Screen event at the Holon Cinematheque takes a closer look at how cinema is faring in the digital era.

LIOR ZALMANSON 311 (photo credit: Jezelle Habar)
(photo credit: Jezelle Habar)
It is no secret that our lives and our world have dramatically changed since the Internet became such a powerful vehicle of communication, and provider of information. These days the Internet is also increasingly being used as a source of entertainment, with millions of web surfers around the world watching whole movies from a wide range of sites.
This Wednesday sees the start of the four-day Print Screen event at the Holon Cinematheque which will take a long hard look at how the digital revolution is impacting on the film industry. The program includes movie screenings, lectures and a conference, which will be held in conjunction with the Institute of Internet Research of Tel Aviv University.
The idea behind Print Screen is to take an in-depth look at how cinema is faring in the digital era, by gaining some insight through the thoughts of experts in the field, and by viewing feature films and documentaries which demonstrate the knock on changes that have taken place in almost all areas of our lives.
“We are bringing movies that which analyze or reflect the era, and we will look at how the Internet is changing the viewing experience,” explains 27 year old event organizer Lior Zalmanson who also heads the Institute of Internet Research.
“There will also be a panel discussion on interactivity, and one on the age of participation, and we will also screen Us Now which, I think, is very enlightening about this area.”
Us Now is a documentary film about how channels of Internetbased communication enables people to collaborate in areas that are relevant to their everyday lives, without involving the authorities, and how this helps to generate a sense of community and, possibly, eventually leads to greater transparency. This, we are told, can have a profound effect on the way governments operate and can empower the public. The screening will be preceded by a panel discussion with several top professionals, including Prof Niv Ahituv, academic director of the Institute of Internet Research, Dr. Carmel Weissman from the Tel Aviv University’s Department of Communication and Maya Valenstein from the university’s Department of Sociology.
Zalmanson says the seed for this week’s event was sown when he was very young.
“When I was 12 years old I went to a festival about computer films at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. They showed Jumping Jack Flash (1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg) which tried to show people what a PC is capable of doing, and looked at computer phobia.”
15 years later, Zalmanson feels it is high time the Establishment took a look at the web.
“I noticed that no cultural institution has related to the way the Internet is used today. I thought it could be interesting to take a closer look at the way digital communication affects our lives and the movie industry.”
ONE OF the most fascinating aspects of Internet-based communication is its double-edged sword property of alienating people, through reliance of impersonal electronic communication, and its continually evolving ability to connect people and create virtual communities.
The latter, as shown in Us Now, is gathering momentum and is increasingly translating into real face-to-face dynamics between people who may not otherwise have known of each other’s existence, let alone actually exchange ideas. Print Screen also addresses this, as well as the imposition of boundaries and ensuring that Internet use does not take over our lives.
“More and more ultra-orthodox Jews now use the Internet and, of course, control comes into that very strongly,” says Zalmanson.
“Naturally you have to be cautious about misuse but the Internet can also serve the haredi community, by conveying information and helping people who feel isolated. There are already quite a few haredi forums on the web, including Qs and As with rabbis. Of course, anonymity can be bad, but it can also give people the freedom to share things they might otherwise express.”
The Print Screen program also includes a session called You Tube Killed the Video Star – a play on the title of the 1979 Buggles hit song, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” about the encroaching marketing power of video clips. That all seems light years ago now.
Other areas that will be addressed over the four days include social networking, Internet addiction, cyber sex and virtual fantasy worlds.
While the over-50s did not grow up in a world of PCs and, presumably, are less likely to become totally enveloped in an Internet-based existence, at the end of the day, Zalmanson has a positive take on the thin dividing line between tangible and ephemeral reality.
“I don’t think young people will lose their connection with reality. I am optimistic about this. The Internet offers many clear advantages but it still does not, and cannot, replace face to face dynamics.”
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