I am writing in response to Jonathan Howell's recent comments in The Pantagraph ("Movie airings may be costly,” Page A1, Feb. 8). I have a question: Why is New Yorker Films attacking a group that promotes film culture?
I attended many of the ISU Cinema Society screenings and learned a great deal about film. Typically, a film would be introduced, outlining its social and/or aesthetic significance, the film would be screened - in a classroom, and an informal discussion would follow. This was invaluable for my film education. There were some films I loved; some I never want to see again. But I always learned something. The ISU Cinema Society never charged admission. If it had, I probably would have only attended films I already knew or possibly none at all. I shudder to think what I would have missed.
It saddens me to see that a company such as New Yorker Films makes such a short-sighted attempt to extort money from an academic institution by utilizing such a narrow and misleading interpretation of fair-use laws. As mentioned in the article, nearly half of the supposed violations were actually films advertised for the Normal Theater. This raises serious doubts regarding Mr. Howell's vague estimate that his company loses hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and adds credence to Curtis White's claim that they are really trying to "shake down the university."
In smaller towns such as Bloomington and Normal, there are not many venues available for independent and avant-garde cinema. New Yorker Films is a business, of course, but would it not be better to help these tiny, poorly-funded pockets of film culture rather than drive them away?