Last night I got this rather shocking email from my dad:
“We just had the most disturbing and obnoxious and offensive experienced at the Berkshire International Film Festival screening of “American Teenager.” At the usual introduction a bulky little white haired man was introduced as representing the distributor. Behind him was a very large person, wearing some sort of a plastic id, who turned out to be some sort of security body guard. The white haired guy started lecturing the audience about movie piracy. He went on threateningly and angrily stating that any recording of any aspect of any movie, even in the background of a cell phone call was a felony and that the studio had hired security to watch the audience including special machines that could detect use of cell phones from blocks away. Then he took out a sheet of paper and a flashlight and started reading what he claimed was material from the FBI. Finally someone in the full-house audience called out that he was offended by the man and objected to his speech, his attitude towards the audience. At this point several other angry audience members spoke out and the man and his bodyguard stalked out. The manager of the theater apologized to the audience saying that the distributor insisted on the guy addressing the audience as a prerequisite for allowing the showing.
I felt ashamed of myself for not speaking up during the man’s fascist tirade and was pretty upset and pissed off for the first few minutes of the film. Afterwards, one of the kids who was in the documentary did a q&a and then the manager apologized again for the guy being allowed to give his threatening talk and asked the audience not to hold it against the distributor (at which there was some grumbling from the audience and I called out “why not?” and he gave me an annoyed look. And then we all went home.
Have you heard of this kind of thing at any other film festivals? It sounds like such a desperate and stupid extension of just the kind of anti-piracy nuttiness you’ve been writing about in your blog.”
I’ve heard similar stories but this just sickens me. This is going to do more to hurt the movie business than any piracy could. When will these entertainment conglomerates realize that treating your customers like criminals is simply not good business?
UPDATE: (from my mom)
“its distributor is Paramount Vantage. They were the ones insisted on the gestapo in order to let the festival show the film. And there were two security guards not one! What a shame because I thought the movie itself was terrific. First time I’ve seen some animation incorporated into a doc (used to highlight feelings and fantasies of the teens) at different points in the doc. Anyone who has ever been in h.s. will identify…lol.”