We've been hearing a lot about the battle for film. It's not a battle about movie stars or which version of Snow White is going to be better but a battle about actual film and whether or not that can be replaced. Is celluloid better than digital? Is digital better than celluloid? Is the entire concept of 35 mm so archaic that every director must go to digital? These are the questions the stellar Side By Side documentary raises. It is, by all means, a must see for any cinephile.
The documentary, produced by Keanu Reeves, is getting a lot of buzz amongst the industry. I've heard many critics discussing the implications of a departure of 35 mm. When talking to filmmakers it is now important to ask "Did you shoot or film or digitally?" Every answer is a passionate response in hailing the benefits of both.
That's what Side by Side truly captures. It doesn't weigh you down with the sentimentality of celluloid film. It presents arguments supporting film's physical dependability, it's aesthetic value and the tone it gives a production. Conversely they do the same with digital filmmaking; it's cheaper, easier to manipulate and creates a different tone on set. We get support from all your favorite filmmakers. Nolan and his D.P. Wally Pfister, James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Lars Von Trier, Danny Boyle... practically everyone you can think of. They all have their own aesthetic and opinions on their medium which shows us that filmmaking is not a false art by just pointing a camera at people- it's a complex journey of aesthetic and creative discovery.
Furthermore, for those of you who think that there are only a handful of jobs that you get in the film industry (director, producer, actor) there is finally some education on the other people in production. The Director of Photography, the Color Corrector, the Editor...all are given a moment of overdue credit.
Fascinating and contemporary, Side By Side will probably be shown in film schools across the nation from now on.