Guest Column: Easy screenings on home turf

That old saw about the mountain coming to Mohammed is probably a dicey reference in these supercharged days, but it’s a good time for Malibu’s extensive body of film industry workers to celebrate that the Weinstein Company has instituted a practice that is, more and more, bringing Hollywood to Malibu. 

Anyone who has tried to make it “into town” to attend all those evening award contender screenings in the close-in industry enclaves like Beverly Hills, Westwood or Encino knows that it is a two-hour exercise in futility to buck the west-to-east traffic on the freeways or on the main crosstown boulevards at that time. Malibu can’t make it into Hollywood, but now the Weinstein people, followed by other studios dutifully aware of the fact that Weinstein films are always in the thick of the awards races, and frequently first across the line (“The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” the past two years), have instituted weeks of screenings of their contenders at our hometown Malibu Theatre. They’ve done this for the convenience of our town’s award season voters. 

This Friday, the Weinstein people take over the main theatre of our local movie house for the easy attendance of members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and of the Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild and all of the film industry’s other guilded arts and crafts, enabling their viewing in theatrical projection only a few miles from home. 

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The Malibu buffet of contending Weinstein films this year includes “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Quartet,” “The Master” and the French film, “The Intouchables,” all counted among the dozens of highly regarded films those of us who vote for Oscar nominations and other honors will wish to see before formulating our choices. 

This is a development of wide interest to all of Malibu, a town which prides itself on its intimate connection to the arts, particularly the film, television and music arts. In the first place, it lets all Malibuites see choice films before their actual run here. I know that all of our “civilian” friends and neighbors (“civilian” in movie talk means anyone not in the industry) take great interest in fine filmmaking. In fact, the Weinstein Company has been an active factor in the growth of our Malibu Film Society, which helps build our town’s general public awareness and appreciation of film-making. With a nod to the film society’s success in that mission statement, the Weinstein Company will be allowing Malibu Film Society card-holders the same free entrance to this week of contending films as the AMPAS and guild cards provide. 

One of the reasons for that is to expand the membership, with new members able to attend this very exclusive sneak preview of films deserving of consideration. Our civilian friends can get aboard this opportunity by contacting MFS Executive Director Scott Tallal at scott@malibufilmsociety.org. 

Joseph Sargent is the Distinguished Filmmaker In Residence for Pepperdine University and the director of such films as “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.” 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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