Farewell Megaplex, Hello Moor

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image by Tom Finnie / Guardian News & Media Ltd 2009

Film festivals are becoming so ubiquitous and homogeneous that it can be hard to tell one from another. Enter film writer Mark Cousins and actress Tilda Swinton, who are upending the viewing experience for film fiends and staging community film festivals complete with “elaborately decorated venues, baking, music, and as much audience participation and fun as possible,” Cousins writes in Prospect (Sept. 2009). He and Swinton have hosted events in Scotland and Beijing. Their latest adventure, dubbed A Pilgrimage, had them lugging an 80-seat cinema, housed in a semitrailer and weighing 41 tons, to seven Scottish villages and towns to show films. * Cousins rejects the claim that movie-going faces death by DVDs and home theaters. Festivalgoers in Scotland braved insect bites and inclement weather to immerse themselves in a playful, quirky, and sometimes serious experience that transcended the projected DVDs being shown–such as one screening Cousins describes: “We showed Peter Watkins’ devastating 1964 film Culloden on Culloden Moor at 1 p.m., the time the battle started. At 69 minutes, the film was around the same length as the battle, in which 1,300 Jacobites were slaughtered. We dressed in black and pulled the cinema onto the moor in silence.”

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