In a move sure to inspire much rejoicing (and, from your less-cinephilic friends, much shrugging), Alamo Drafthouse has just announced that March 5 will henceforth be known as “Reel Film Day,” a national celebration of 35mm celluloid. (Written cardinally, March 5 is 3.5—get it?) Partnering with Kodak, the theater chain will ring in the holiday with nationwide screenings of 35mm prints.
The programmed titles run the gamut; technicolor-fantasia The Red Shoes, acrobatic-agitprop I Am Cuba, and Michael Mann’s neon-smog daydream Heat all make the list—even Jean-Luc Godard’s Chernobyl-set, head-trip take on King Lear shows up in San Francisco. But they’re all cinematographic showstoppers best seen in (some would argue blasphemous to see in anything but) their intended exhibition format.
Those of us in Kansas City will be treated to both volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill diptych. The whopping double feature, which runs over 250 minutes, begins at 2 PM on Sunday, March 5 at the Alamo Mainstreet. Tickets are on sale now. ($3.50 of each ticket will be donated to the Film Foundation to help fund, as the press release cryptically notes, “an upcoming important film preservation effort.”)
First introduced in 1892, 35mm reigned as the international standard for film exhibition from 1909 to 2013. While the convenience and evolving quality of digital formats like DCP have rendered celluloid all but obsolete, 35mm still has a slight edge over digital in resolution, brightness, and color saturation. But the most convincing argument for its continued relevance is less empirical; at heart, “movie magic” refers to the interplay of shadow and light, and like the reemergence of vinyl, there’s an immediacy to the analog experience that’s absent in contemporary formats. The President of Kodak Motion Picture and Entertainment Steve Bellamy puts it simply: “There is nothing like experiencing actual 35mm projected film…watching light blast through dozens of layers of color dye clouds and emulsion, 24 times per second.”
Read more about the festivities and see the full program at Reel Film Day’s website.