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Saturday, April 13, 2024

James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas. These four legendary directors are not just film industry innovators; they are four of the voices who help track the evolution of film in the new documentary “Side by Side.”

Directed by Chris Kenneally and produced by actor Keanu Reeves, the film premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim. With interviews with film experts from every level, also conducted by Reeves, the documentary tracks the progression of how films are made and the impact that technological change has on not only film, but on its audience.

From directors to cinematographers, coloring artists to camera engineers, the documentary covers all of the bases to really indulge in the art of filmmaking. Tracking the history, piece by piece, from film’s initial (and costly) beginnings through its gradual shrinking into the digitized age, provides the commentators feedback with a mixture of fact and thought.

Each interview has its own “feel,” its own message . From Nolan and beyond, the subjects share their personal thoughts about whether film’s new horizon is its new beginning or its final frontier. A grandiose topic, yes, but contrasting insights make it intriguing.

Mixing Robert Rodriguez’s pro-digital stance with the more old-fashioned cinematographers’ nostalgia about cutting film in the editing room makes “Side by Side” a weighty two-sided argument. Yet, with visual aids to illustrate the constant expansion into digital format, the passion for which all involved have for their craft is undeniable.

That passion is spread throughout every frame of the documentary, from the on-set examples of the changes digital editing provides in movies like “Avatar,” to actors’ opinions about what it’s like to film in 10-minute increments versus 40-minute digital takes. It reinforces how powerful film is for both those behind the camera and in front of the screen.

“Side by Side” will play at the Hippodrome State Theatre Oct. 2. For more information, visit the Hippodrome website, www.thehipp.org.

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