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Broad Theater to Take Part in ‘1984’ International Protest


It’s not often that people can take part in an auteur-directed protest. But this Tuesday (4.4) will mark an international arts statement, with almost 200 theaters across America, Canada, England, Sweden, and Croatia screening the dystopian drama “1984,” directed by Michael Radford. Art-house theater The Broad will rep New Orleans as the sole local cinema involved with the event. 

 

Fans of George Orwell’s 1949 novel may notice that the date marks protagonist Winston Smith’s fight against a totalitarian regime. The timing is strangely serendipitous in many ways — Orwell’s book became a national bestseller in the months following President Trump’s inauguration, and the screening comes in the immediate days following the administration’s call to eliminate cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

 

Many theaters have shied away from taking part in the event, organized by the United State of Cinema. For instance, there are 30+ theaters in New Orleans alone, but The Broad is one of only two theaters in the entire state of Louisiana to take part in the single-day showing. 

 

For the Broad team, their involvement is more of statement on artistic self-expression than a protest against the Trump administration. “I never felt we should overtly put forth our political views,” said Brian Knighten, owner of the independent cinema house. “As a small business, you don’t want to pick sides in a political debate and subsequently alienate some of your audience.” 

 

When the idea for a nationwide screening of “1984” was first announced, the team originally was not going to be involved for this reason. Knighten informed the management that the theatre wouldn’t make a statement until the president cut arts and education funding. “And, well, here we are,” said Knighten.  

 

As the owner and curator behind an art-house cinema, Knighten finds it troubling that the current administration plans to defund arts and education programs, despite America’s habit of taking funds from arts initiatives to pay for federal, military, and public service programs. According to recent findings from Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry generates over $22.3 billion in government revenue — though receives just $4 billion in federal funding. Knighten was particularly troubled by a recent Canadian study that found the U.S. contributes just 0.02 percent of the total GDP to the arts. “Many of the foreign films we play have some federal funding,” said Knighten. “It’s sad so many American films do not.” 

 

Though short of the watchful eyes of Big Brother, what is at risk in this current political climate is the sense of community that cinema, and the arts, can offer. “From the beginning, the theatre has tried to be a place for everyone,” explains Knighten. “Film, as art, has tremendous power to create empathy and insight like I believe no other art form can. I feel The Broad Theater tries to take both of these things into account when we plan our programming.” 

 

The Broad’s Tuesday screening will benefit a community beyond just the close-knit world of cinephiles, with proceeds going The Innocence Project of New Orleans.

 

Learn more about The Broad's screening here

 




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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

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Michael Weber, B.A.

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Linzi Falk

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Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

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