Friday, October 26, 2018

R.I.P. FilmStruck (November 2016-November 2018)

Because 2018 has to continue to be the garbage fire year to end all garbage fire years, this morning brought a piece of completely out-of-nowhere awful news declaring that streaming service FilmStruck, which is dedicated to providing easy access to classic cinema from all genres from every country on the planet, is coming to an end. As reported by Variety, the Warner Bros. Digital Service-owned service FilmStruck will come to an end on November 29, 2018, as part of Warner Bros. new parent company AT&T initiative to cut back on the amount of streaming services they carry as well as FilmStruck being, according to an official statement from Warner Bros. Digital Service, "...a largely niche service.". 

Wow, I am shocked a service offering classic cinema was a niche service, it's almost like the point of FilmStruck wasn't to be the next Netflix but rather fill a much-needed hole in the streaming marketplace by offering a place that allowed people to be exposed to classic cinema. There's no mincing words on this matter, I am honestly bowled over with grief over this horrifying development. A perfect place to discover cinema from all across the globe, the only streaming service catered to movie fans and now it's gone for absolutely no reason (that "niche" service excuse bugs the hell out of, who cares how many subscribers you have when all the films you stream are decades old and have long been profitable?). 

As a society, we need to have an appreciation for art of the past from all around the world and a place like FilmStruck where people from all economic classes can view it with ease was the perfect way to fulfill this need in the medium of cinema. For the first time in history, one could watch numerous works from iconic filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman with the push of a button while also having the opportunity to discover lesser-known filmmakers like Kathleen Collins through carefully curated lists created by the people behind FilmStruck that highlighted Classic Films Directed By Women and Classic Films About Lesbians. That especially stuck out to me as an excellent feature in an already exceptional service, FilmStruck went out of its way to create detailed lists dedicated to filmmakers and their works that don't get discussed as much as they should be in conventional film academia.

And now we all only have a month left to enjoy its rich library of content which I personally have benefited from immensely as a viewer and writer of cinema. I would never have been able to complete my Sight & Sound Top 50 Films Voyage from last Spring without the aid of FilmStruck and I never would have been exposed to the works of Agnes Varda, Ranier Werner Fassbinder and so many others without FilmStruck. The death of FilmStruck is a blow not just for myself but for film lovers everywhere, especially since the likes of Netflix and Amazon carry few, if any, classic movies from any part of the globe. FilmStruck really was like nothing else on the globe and now it's just become the most recent example of how the small & the vulnerable tend to get crushed during big corporate mergers like the one currently occuring between AT&T and WarnerMedia (those thousands of people getting laid off when Disney finishes acquiring the media companies of News Corp. is another perfect example of this). 

I can barely fathom my sorrow over its demise and if you're also experiencing that same feeling this morning, know that you're not alone in having such a profound emotional reaction to the loss of FilmStruck. I'd also like to take this moment to encourage people to make sure to use the DVD sections of their local libraries if they're looking for classic cinema, now more than ever it is imperative to support venues like libraries that encourage public access to art from all over the globe.

Well, to quote a Vera Lynn song played during the ending of Dr. Strangelove....

"We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do

'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away"

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