Observer: The Screening Elite

In the Observer, Jake Brooks writes shamelessly and entertainingly on the Tina Brown-imagined resurgence of private screenings as a means of marketing "specialty" films. Peggy Siegal, who "invented" these things like twenty years ago for Kevin Costner, features prominently into this "new trend" sop to the publicists.

Siegal on the importance of "the mix":

If Julian Schnabel is directing Before Night Falls, youíre going to have a larger contingent of artists coming. If youíre screening Pollock, itís real important to get Eric Fischl in there, and Ross Bleckner, because you want some credibility in that arena. [italics added to highlight the Ahn Duong-ist, Vogue-is-the-only-art- magazine-I-know, aesthetically and critically clueless generational bubble-ism that leads someone to go on record as thinking Schnabel, Fischl, or Salle have anything to do with art credibility.]
Interesting, this publicist's quest for credibility. Tina Brown also wrote that "writers are in particular demand [for screenings] because they add credibility," but promptly admits that "The writers you see at parties are not usually the 'real' ones," who are "difficult" and "tend to have opinions." Credibility in the screening biz apparently means, "someone who assumes a film is good because they were invited to see it for free."

IFP/NY members can rent out the Quad, the foreign/indie institution, for $250 to screen their films, as long as they're out before 12:30. (That's 30 minutes after noon, not midnight. That timing may be better suited for getting a distributor than for getting a writeup in People. Soho House's screening room rents for $200/hour, with the adjoining lounge included. Drinks are extra. Like a movie house, Soho House covers its nut at the concession stand.

[update: The NYTimes gets into the act, uncovering an odd, Hollywood-meets-Beltway-mix screening of Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War at the Tribeca Grand. Credibility-granting sponsors in this case: John Podesta of his new Center for American Progress. You can buy a DVD copy of the movie--which will not screen in theaters, or you can get one free when you donate $30 or more to CAP.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: November 5, 2003.

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