Cronenberg: Film is dead

Director David Cronenberg says that the time to record using film stock has passed. (STAN BEHAL/QMI...

Director David Cronenberg says that the time to record using film stock has passed. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE KIRKLAND, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:58 PM ET

CANNES - Film is dead, long live digital.

That's the message from veteran Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who just shot his drama Cosmopolis with digital cameras and not on traditional film stock.

"It's interesting," Cronenberg told a Telefilm Canada event at the Cannes Film Festival Monday, "because Cosmopolis is the first feature film that I've shot digitally. Which -- believe me -- is fine with me. I have no particular affection for film whatsoever, other than the smell when you open those film cans. Then I thought you could have a Kodak air freshener, Then that's the best of the film (medium). You don't need anything else."

Cronenberg's startling comments came in a special panel session moderated by Toronto filmfest co-director Cameron Bailey. Under the title, Master and Son: Cronenbergs at Cannes, that put the 69-year-old David Cronenberg on stage with his 32-year-old filmmaking son Brandon Cronenberg. Both have films in official programs. "This is very first time in the history of the Cannes Film Festival that father and son have presented films in the same year," Bailey announced.

Coincidentally, both father and son used the same advanced Arri Alexa digital cameras, David for shooting Cosmopolis with Robert Pattinson, Brandon for shooting his sci-fi celebrity satire Antiviral. Some filmmakers have been holding out on the traditional side of the film vs. digital debate. For example, Christopher Nolan insisted on shooting The Dark Knight Rises on film, believing strongly -- like select others -- that film stock delivers richer, warmer, deeper detail. Nolan also has said he believes the surrender to digital is a money grab by equipment manufacturers who only profit from change.

But Cronenberg senior said the demise of film after 100-plus years is imminent and appropriate. "Actually, sound has been digital on film sets for many, many years; editing has been digital for many, many years. Really, it's about time that film died its natural death and it's doing that." All film processing labs are closing, he added. In Toronto, for example, they already have.

"So, actually, you can't process film in Toronto any more. If you shot on film in Toronto, you'd have to send it to L.A. to get it developed. And why would you ever want to shoot on film? Well, I don't. Creatively though, what you do as a director, how you work with the actors and what the lens do and what the light does is exactly the same."

Meanwhile, Cronenberg senior is giddy about being at Cannes with son Brandon as fellow directors. "It was pretty great seeing Brandon go up the red carpet, you know," proud poppa said about the world premiere of Antiviral on Friday. "Very emotional for me, really. Because, as I said to Bran, 'It took me 20 years to get to Cannes (with one of his films).' And here he is with his first film, so ... But it was really terrific because I had seen the movie and I knew it was a terrific film, so I was very excited for him."

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca


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