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Jakarta Post

Oh, how I miss the cinema!

  • Rish Tandapany

    -

Singapore   /   Sat, October 10, 2020   /   11:04 am
Oh, how I miss the cinema! On trial: City administration officials and the general public participate in a movie screening simulation at the XXI Cinema in Cililitan, East Jakarta, on Saturday. The Jakarta administration plans to allow cinemas in the city to reopen with tight health protocols in the near future. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Some people crave the gym, others their favorite coffee shop; some miss travelling, and others simply yearn for the company of others.

What do I miss most? The cinema. Yes, the world has slowly started opening up its cinemas but it may be too little, too late. COVID-19 has decimated the cinema industry to a point where its recovery is questionable.

Will cinemas, as we remember them, ever get back to normal and what can we do to aid this?

I, like a lot of people, love the cinema. There is nothing quite like the majesty of seeing a movie on a big screen with an accompanying audience. Given what has happened in the last nine months that memory seems far, far away.

The reality is that for a lot of people, the cinema experience presents the ultimate escapism; a time where you are alone, fixated on something created to entice, scare, stimulate or rouse you. There are no phones, few distractions, copious amounts of popcorn and screens bigger than anything you could hope to have at home.

In the past week, numerous cinema chains across the world have closed down – another victim of the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic. Now broken, the cinema experience may never be the same again.

I recently saw a movie in the cinema. I was excited; even childlike in anticipation. However, this time things were different. I was wearing a mask, not allowed to buy popcorn and two seats away from the nearest patron.

Was I in the cinema or was I in some weird parallel universe where the cinema had become some form of prison.

Now, I know everything is done in the interests of safety. However, my ultimate distraction had now become some form of tribulation.

Get a Netflix account, I hear you say. It isn’t the same. Digital platforms have helped us in our time of need, and they should be commended for filling our void, but they also present a huge challenge as the digital ecosystem becomes more pervasive. We are in danger of a new couch potato culture where some form of digital device is in constant use by individuals. This lends itself to the sedentary lifestyle that is engulfing today’s society.

The World Health Organization has said that over 80 percent of adolescents are not physically active enough. With COVID’s end not seemingly close and technology becoming an integral aspect of people’s lives, we need to find a happy balance so that we are in control of technology and not vice versa.

Taking a walk or a drive to your nearest cinema may not make a huge impact immediately but it can reduce your sedentary behaviors at home. More importantly, it will likely give you feelings toward entertainment that can’t easily be replicated within the confines of your room. Not to mention helping a huge industry, with its many employees, stay afloat.

Governments also have a role to play in helping safeguard the cinema industry. Hospitals, schools, corporations, etc. have all been given elements of protection and subsidy. However, industries deemed less “vital” have been marginalized.

The cinema industry includes various occupations from actors to directors, writers to cinematographers; all of whom need backing and aid during this trying time. In addition, we should think about the traditional and cultural importance associated with cinemas within societies.

I leave you with this from Pedro Almodovar, the eminent Spanish filmmaker, who said it better than I ever could, “The screen should not be smaller than the chair on which you’re sitting. It should not be part of your everyday setting. You must feel small and humble in front of the image that is here to capture you […] it’s the capacity to be hypnotized by the big screen.”

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The writer is consultant who founded Trynkle after years of extensive experience in the Tier 1 finance, government, advisory and fintech industries.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.