Movie Movement

The cineplex is far from obsolete, but the Netflix business
model is radically changing the way we watch films. One of the most
promising developments is the burgeoning film club movement. Like
book clubs, film clubs bring together like- (and unlike-) minded
folks to view and discuss films.

What started out as a grassroots movement has spawned a growing
number of Netflix-inspired businesses that cater to group
movie-watching. The latest is the Ironweed film club
launched in December 2005, which specializes in films with a
political bent and is equal parts indie distributor and progressive
movement builder.

Adam Werbach, the former Sierra Club president who founded
Ironweed, believes that film — and the film club movement — can
play a powerful role in building a progressive movement: ‘We need
to bring people together to have community conversations, which
isn’t rocket science,’ he explains. ‘It’s union organizing 101.’
Moreover, he says, film can provide a vision for progressives,
providing the ‘representational images to model the type of world
we want to live in.’

About $15 a month, a pretty standard price for DVD publications
across the board, gets you all the representational images you can
handle. For that fee, Ironweed subscribers get a DVD that contains
one feature film, a couple of shorts, and some interviews or other
special features. Ironweed also connects clubbers who want to
attend (or give) a community screening. Other Net-based clubs, like
Film Movement
(, which
specializes in independent and foreign films (and offers a discount
for film clubbers), and The Spiritual Cinema Circle
which focuses on healing and personal transformation, provide a
similar service. As the film club movement grows, other outlets,
including broadband services, are likely to emerge. But what’s most
exciting isn’t the technology — it’s the community and dialogue
that are built in the watching.

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