Last Friday night I caught Page One: Inside the New York Times at the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with a Q&A with filmmakers Andrew Rossi (Director/Executive Producer) and Kate Novack (Co-Writer with Mr. Rossi/Executive Producer).
The new center is minimal, sleek and modern. The theaters are more small and intimate. Definitely geared more toward independent film. The particular screening that I attended was a little odd because the moderator started with a couple questions of the filmmakers as they sort of leaned up against the wall below the screen at the head of the theater. Then he asked everyone to move next door into the auditorium for the rest of the Q&A. This was due to the screening schedule, but usually theaters build in time for post screening discussion when applicable. The auditorium everyone moved to for the remainder of the filmmaker Q&A is situated in the middle of the film center and is a really nice space. Many people did indeed join in the auditorium, but it just seemed kind of awkward. I thought the center itself was great though and I look forward to attending when they have the cafe set up. There looked to be a space at the front of the center for that type of thing. I think the cafe will give the minimal decor some buzz. When I went, it was an empty space and it made the film center seem rather quiet.
Page One was a good film and being an avid New York Times reader, both on the internet and the paper, I do feel strongly about the importance of real journalism (for instance, blogs aren't journalism and they make that point rather soundly). Page One examines the digitalization of media and it's effect on long standing reporting institutions such as the New York Times. The journalist David Carr makes a strong and dynamic personality as a lead character, taking no flack for what feels often like a dying industry. The supporting characters back him up well.
One of my favorite moments in the film is during the release of the iPad. David's colleague is tapping and sliding through the Times on his new iPad. David says something about how great it is, flipping pages as though they were real paper. He asks his co-worker, "Do you know what it reminds me of?", his co-worker says something like, "No, what?". David replies deadpan, "A newspaper".
Unfortunately something I noticed about this screening was that I was one of the youngest people in attendance and I'm not in college anymore. There were a few twenty somethings but just a few. Mostly Baby Boomer somethings. I left feeling the importance of journalism all the more than I did before walking in, but I wondered whether the film would reach younger generations. Those people who could be future journalists. I mean real deal journalists. Because if a younger demographic doesn't care enough to attend something like Page One, it's hard to build momentum.
I have been happy to see a number of articles on Page One, mostly very favorable and not just in high brow readings, but in lighter fare. That's promising because it's not just a crusade to save journalism film. It's entertaining with real drama and strong characters. That's the reason to see something more often than not, so hopefully people will go and leave thinking and discussing. Maybe they'll stop in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center's cafe and chat about it.