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The new normal - Changes are coming in the film industry

Changes are coming in the film industry in the new normal

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Changes are coming in the film industry in the new normal

A dramatically altered new normal is coming to the film business – in how and who makes the films and how and why we will watch them. No one can say with certainty today what the future will look like, but it is now apparent it will never be what it was.

You might think this is because of the seismic shift that the global pandemic has forced into our daily lives, including in our cultural pursuits. True enough, but the seeds of change were already sown in film before COVID-19 started its deadly spread, prompting most countries to slam on the brakes and shutter public venues, including movie theatres.

The grip of the legendary Hollywood studios was already loosening. Just look at how streaming services – notably Netflix – had challenged the studios and started beating them at their own game by buying indie films outright or creating originals.

Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio plays a nanny who shows her transformational love for her harsh employer's children in Roma.
Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio plays a nanny who shows her transformational love for her harsh employer’s children in Roma.

The titles include some of the most exciting films of the 21st century. With Netflix, the list is already impressive: Beasts of No Nation (2015), starring Idris Elba; Tallulah (2016), starring Ellen Page; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), an eccentric Coen Brothers creation; Roma (2018), Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s family masterpiece; Dolemite is My Name (2019), featuring Eddie Murphy in a renaissance performance; and The Irishman (2019), Martin Scorsese’s riveting gangster epic starring a mafia of his old actor pals.

Netflix’s singular success even obliged the Academy Awards to change its eligibility rules to accommodate films such as Roma and The Irishman, after the racially charged embarrassment of denying Beasts of No Nation.

Meanwhile, commercial theatres were already feeling the pinch. Canada’s largest exhibitor, Cineplex, negotiated a lucrative buyout by Britain’s Cineworld. When the pandemic hit, the deal soured. Both companies are now suing one another. Cineplex is in a crisis. Expect some cinemas to close permanently.

Cineplex, and other world distributors such as Cineworld, will survive only by booking Hollywood’s flow of family animations and youth-friendly blockbusters fueled by comic book heroes. That is a limited niche, despite the billions generated so far. The wave will pass.

The truth is that more and more adult film fans, who are already exploring the joys and convenience of streaming, will stay put at home, finding what they want online.

Film festivals are also damned, on a certain level. The excitement had already been draining from the elite festivals, including Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival. The giddy excitement I remember from TIFF’s 1976 launch as the Festival of Festivals disappeared a decade ago. Ditto for Cannes. The allure of discovery was dulled by corporate commercial branding.

Then COVID-19 derailed Cannes altogether in 2020, along with dozens of other festivals. Toronto will proceed, but only as a shadow memory this September. It is a gut-wrenching spectacle.

The future? The music business underwent a total tear-down transformation in this century, not always for the better. Now it is time for even more significant changes in film. And, if that makes stunning films such as Roma more accessible and celebrated, it could be a good thing.

Bruce Kirkland‘s career spans more than four decades, working for The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and finally, as the senior film critic, for 36 years at The Toronto Sun.



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Decor: Changing times

Changing times, changing homes

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Changing times, changing homes

Over the last several years, design has had an ever-increasing movement towards environmentally friendly materials, sustainability, and energy efficiency. We’ve all been doing our part to aid the environment, knowing full well changes were needed on many levels. Our homes are our private spaces, reflections of ourselves, our family, our lifestyles; but recently they have become our sole spaces for living.

The current global health crisis has thrown us all into a different way of living. Very quickly our sanctuaries have also become our offices, classrooms and gyms, while still being our space for family living. Video work calls rapidly became our new norm, and while our companies had to adapt technologically for the “work-from-home” environment, we came to realize quickly that many others had an intimate vantage point of our private lives. Kids playing, dogs barking, our partners also on video calls and life happening became our backdrop. It has connected us on a far more personal level than before, which has been great, but it has also given us a window into how our homes actually function.

When looking to renovate, functionality and aesthetics are undoubtedly of great importance; however, functionality never really took into consideration the change in lifestyle we have been experiencing over the last several months. We all desire open concept living. It allows us to connect with our family at the end of the day, but does this work the same for us when our homes are being used as they have been recently? Have we compromised functioning privacy for the desire to have openness and connectivity without restrictions?

It seems that part of the new norm that will be coming upon us in design will be the need to have homes with the capability to function as more than just our living, entertaining and storage spaces. While this may be the future of our design and renovation planning, currently we are emerging from months of home seclusion that has left us wanting to add new life to our living spaces. We need to give our surroundings a facelift, a new aesthetic that will inspire us to move ahead in this new way of living and shake off the last few months of isolation.

Bursts of colour, pretty and bold wallpaper and fabric patterns, cheerful new accessories or a relaxing outdoor space – we are all desiring something new, inspiring and fresh for our homes. Whether you’ve been spending some of your time at home planning a major renovation to your kitchen or bathroom, or are only looking for a few new small touches such as a fresh paint colour or pretty new hardware on your kitchen cabinetry, one thing is for certain. A greater movement towards interior decorating and design will be strong as we see our homes in a new light and have the desire to make them more inviting, inspirational and functional for all aspects of our living needs.

With the changes we have all experienced over the last few months, it remains to be seen how many of them will permanently become our “new norm.” Early signs are showing that many of us will, in some way, be working from home, studying or entertaining more at home, whatever the case may be. We may find that we are generally just spending more time in our own surroundings, which is bound to have an impact on how we design and decorate our abodes.

No matter how large or small our home’s footprint, we may look to carve out small areas that afford us a bit of privacy for work, or just for some quiet time alone. We will want to motivate ourselves by bringing some of the outdoors in, by maximizing our natural light and by keeping our surroundings simple in this ever-complex world. Whatever direction your home will go in the future, rest assured that as we start emerging from our seclusion, those of you who are ready to renovate or redecorate will be thinking a bit differently about the expectations and goals you may have for your home.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.



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